Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart
"

Juliet is warned of the danger that awaits her if she is not careful...

"


The sun shone gloriously bright on my head as I pelted towards PhysTech Tower in my heels. I avoided the cracks in the pavement and veered wildly to avoid knocking into passers-by. “Sorry!” I panted.


Where's the fire, lady?” yelled a man, when I accidently smacked him in the shins with my bag.


Sorry! So sorry!” I croaked.


Even though I had woken up on time, my train had been delayed by fifteen minutes, then my cab driver had somehow managed to get himself into a heated argument with another motorist which resulted in me exiting the cab after it nearly turned violent.

Now I was late, nearly twenty five minutes late. Mr. Hunter would have my head on a platter.


Juliet!” Jane was shocked out of her usual unflappable self when I made it to the front desk. “What happened?”


No...time,” I wheezed. “Late...Mr. Hunter?...”


She grimaced. “He's already here.” I paled. “He arrived half an hour ago.”


The waspish girl next to her looked at me with obvious pity in her eyes. “You'd better run, honey. Real fast.”


Jane handed me my card and I rushed to the elevator. I didn't care how I looked-though I attempted to smooth my hair. I was also sweating in the most un-ladylike manner. I flapped my arms on the way up, trying to cool myself. Luckily I was alone.

When the elevator doors slid open I peeked my head out cautiously, looking left and right. The coast appeared to be clear. Maybe he hadn't noticed my absence?

Of course he has, idiot!

I crept toward the desk quickly, glancing all about the place like a robber who sensed he was about to be caught, wanting badly to get my behind on the chair and get to work.

The problem with that plan, however, was someone had already taken my seat.

Mr. Hunter span around slowly to face me. I froze. My heart followed suit.


Aah, Miss. Beaumont.” In his hand he held a pen, which I presumed he was to stab me with. “So nice of you to finally join me.” The look of derision upon his face reminded me of the cruelty he was capable of.


My mouth opened. “Uh.”


Yes?” He placed his feet on the table to study me.


Um.” As ever I was lost for words.


As eloquent as ever, I see,” he smirked.


Sorry,” I muttered.


What was that?” He raised an eyebrow. “What did you say?”


I'm sorry, sir.” My face was bright red now. He had the power to embarrass me. I had given him that power.


For what, Miss. Beaumont?” Obviously he was in the mood to torture.


For being late.” I felt like a child being admonished by an elder.


Why are you late?” His voice was not raised, but it might as well have been with all the controlled anger it carried.


I tried to explain, but as I did, somehow managed to make it sound like it was all my fault. “I'm sorry,” I repeated.


He held a hand up. “Enough. I don't want to hear any more.”


He stood up suddenly and emerged from behind the desk. I gulped but did not back away. With his hands shoved in his pockets, he strutted toward me wearing a typically dapper suit and a cocksure smirk. Here existed the epitome of the archetype alpha male: confidant of his power, immodest and with little morals. It was vomit inducing.


I grimaced at the thought. He frowned. “What was that?”


What?”


That face?” He studied me intently. “What were you thinking just now?”


I shook my head, flustered. “Nothing!” I protested, a little too loudly.


He was quiet. I wished I had something clever or sharp-witted to say. At least then he would respect me a little. And stop staring at me.


Shall I get to work, sir?” I asked. Really, his avid staring wasn't so bad when I avidly stared at my shoes.


He left without a word.


***


The what is going to where?” I was in the middle of a heated argument with the master chef who had been flown in from Spain especially for tomorrow nights gala. “I'm sorry, sir. I have no clue what you're talking about.”


Where iz Stacy? I vant to talk with 'er!” yelled the man. I think his name was Alfredo.


I'm afraid she's not available,” I told him for the tenth time.


You are use-less!” He breathed like a rabid bulldog down the line. “Use-less!”


Why was everyone I came into contact with so rude? “That may be so, sir,” I said stoically. “But nothing will be put right if you don't stop shouting.”


There was a long pause. I heard Alfredo screaming in Spanish, and a female screaming back at him. Was that how cooks communicated with each other? Then the phone went dead.


I sighed. Why couldn't rich people just order a takeaway like everybody else?


When the phone began to ring again I pretended not to hear it. I actually liked being able to hear, thank you very much.


When the ringing persisted I braced myself before picking up the receiver. “PhysTech Industries. Mr. Hunter's office. How may I help you?”


Juliet!” It was the most welcoming voice I'd heard in a while. It was Stacy. “Why weren't you answering? You had me worried.”


Stacy!” I was giddy with happiness. “I'm so sorry! I thought you were the Spanish psycho.”


Huh?” Stacy laughed. “Who?”


Never mind. How are you?” I was so glad to hear a friendly voice for once.


I'm good,” she replied. “Mom's okay too. How are you?”


I filled her in, leaving out bits and bobs, like the American Express card and the feelings-which I could no longer deny to myself-I was having about Mr. Hunter.


Say whaaaaat? He invited you to the gala?” She was stunned.


Yes.”


And he sent you to Chanel, with Nicci Fulvia? The actual Nicci Fulvia?” Stacy was awed.


I have no clue who she is by the way.”


Wow, Juliet,” she whistled. “Wow.”


I waited for her to elaborate.


Do you need more signs that he's into you?” she said slyly.


Not you as well!” I exclaimed. “You sound like my sister.”


It looks like me and Rachael are the only ones with a good pair of eyes on us. We're the only ones who can see what's happening here.”


Nothing's happening. Nothing at all. You're forgetting the lunch incident. Why would he scream at me like that if he was interested?”


But so much has happened since then,” she argued. “He was probably in a bad mood and happened to take it out on you. He's more than made it up to you since.”


I contemplated her words.


Come on, Juliet!” Stacy cried. “Don't be a fool. I know you know.”


Who was I trying to trick? She was right.


I could no longer deny it, either to myself or to her. Mr. Hunter's intentions were clearly less than honourable. These lavish shopping trips and displays of wealth were not a product of his charitable heart. Hadn't I suspected it from the beginning myself?


You're right,” I whispered.


Say it again,” she ordered. “I always like to hear when I'm right.”


You're right, Stacy. Everything you ever said about him, I've been thinking the same.”


I knew it!” She was triumphant. “I know him too well. I knew he hadn't gone all Mother Teresa on us.”


What do you think he'll do next?” I checked his office door in case he had ventured outside.


My guess is he's going to seduce you after the gala,” she said crisply.


My gut tightened. “You make it sound like a done deal.”


The man is slick. The notch's on his bed post are a mile long. He knows how to play the game, and he knows how to win.”


Are you trying to glamorize his behavior? You sound like a rap song.” How could I joke at a time like this? I should have been more afraid, but I wasn't. Did that mean I was tempted with the thought of being with him?


No. Never.

I was not so weak.

You'll fall, like so many others before you.

No!

Did I have no respect for myself? Mr. Hunter was not in love with me, for goodness sake. I was a brand new toy that he had yet to amuse himself with. He would tire of me if he ever got his way.


I don't care what he tries at the gala. Nothing will happen.” I had never been more resolute.


I know what you're like, Juliet,” she said with sympathy. “But, I also know what he's like. That's why I'm worried.”


I have faith in myself,” I tried to assure her. “Don't worry. I won't let anything happen.”


Just be careful, okay? I worry about you being all alone with him there.”


I sighed. “When will you be back?”


Monday,” she replied. “I just hope it's not too late.”


It won't be,” I said firmly. “It won't be.”


I was sad when we hung up but she had given me plenty to think about. Would Mr. Hunter really make a move at the gala? I didn't know what to think anymore. It was all so confusing.


Maybe I should start looking for a new job,” I muttered to myself.

“It would give me peace of mind at least.”


Now I was talking to myself. I had finally gone insane.


I laughed, sliding my chair over to the filing cabinet. After rummaging through it I located a file labelled “Finance”. Mr. Hunter had sent me an e-mail requesting it and ordered it to be delivered to his office at precisely mid-day.

I prepared myself to enter his office. You never knew what sort of a mood he would be in.

He was studying his computer screen closely, a small smile playing on his face, when I finally mustered the courage to go in.


Here is the file you asked for, sir.” I placed it on the desk.


Very slowly, deliberately slowly, he turned his face to look at me. In his eyes was a playfullness that seared my heart. I had never imagined I would ever see such a humor in him. He always carried himself with a seriousness of unearthly intensity.

He cocked his head, but I felt I was not dismissed just yet. I waited. I much preferred him when he was as complaisant as now.


Has everything been finalized for tomorrow night?” He shifted in his chair and I found myself shifting on the spot with him.


We're having...um...problems with the chef, sir,” I said, biting my lip.


He raised an eyebrow and tapped on his keyboard. “It has been taken care of.”


Oh!” I was surprised. Wasn't that my job? And better still, how had he known?


Have you heard from Stacy?” he asked in a flippant tone.


There was something in the way he said it that made me wonder.


“Yes"yes, sir,” I stammered.


Is she well?” he inquired.


Yes.”


Good.” He picked up the file and flicked through it.


Will that be all, sir?”


For now,” he murmured.


He looked up then and held my gaze like a hypnotist. There was a pause full of promise. A moment passed between us. I saw a transparency appear in his eyes. I could see right into him, as if he were a mirror and I his reflection. I had the eerie sensation that he, too, could see into me.


Everything became clear to me in that one second.


I knew then that trouble lay ahead.


***

Saturday rolled by too fast. I barely slept the night before. I dreamed him all night. It seemed as if Mr. Hunter had crept into my brain and filtered into my subconscious. He starred in my every thought.

I awoke hours before my sister and snuck into the shower, delighted that for once I could bathe as I pleased. As the steaming hot water cascaded down my face I wondered what the day would bring. More importantly, if I could make it through this dreaded gala.

When I had dried myself off, gentle white light was beginning to trickle through the meagre blinds that covered the single window in my bedroom.

As I made breakfast I fervently checked the time. It was still early, the gown would not be delivered yet. It was a worry for me. I hoped nothing untoward occurred. Nicci would have a coronary if something happened to the dress.


Morning, Julie.” Rachael drudged in like the walking dead with her hair wild and nightdress askew. She was not a morning person.


Usually the most I could get out of her was a series of grunts-this was a step-up.


Here, have this.” I handed her a hot mug of coffee. Since the incident with Mr. Hunter she had taught me, after a few mishaps, how to make a proper mug.


Mmm.” Rachael sighed and propped herself upright on the counter. “It's good.”


I was taught by the best,” I remarked.


Damn straight.” Rachael eyes me shrewdly. “When did you wake up? You look tired.”


Nothing got past this monster. Still I went for casual nonchalance.


“Not that long ago,” I replied, and busied myself with scrambling an egg. As funds were low, we'd have to share.


I can't wait till you get paid next month, Julie,” she said, with a wrinkle of her nose. “So we can go food shopping.”


We'll go soon,” I promised. “And you can knock yourself out.” I felt a twang of remorse that I could not provide better for her. It pained me that we struggled to afford even the basic articles that others took for granted.


It's okay, Juliet.” She lurched toward me like a drunk and took my hand. “I know you do your best, and your best is good enough for me.”


I did not want to cry in front of her so I tugged her hair playfully instead. “Go put some clothes on. Make yourself decent.”


She rolled her eyes, but obeyed. “It's good to be indecent sometimes, you know?” she said on her way out.


It was my turn to roll my eyes. She had the most lewd mind. “Hurry up, breakfast is done!” I yelled and left it on the counter for her.


I was so nervous I had to have some privacy. I went back into my bedroom and shut the door. Pacing eased my nerves somewhat, but I could not shake the butterflies in my stomach. I just had the strongest sense something bad was going to happen tonight.

I couldn't sit still, not when I got this jittery.

It had been days since I'd heard from Roman. He had not called since that night. I would have thought it all a dream had it not been for my sister who witnessed the phone call. Truth be told, I'd been distracted by Mr. Hunter and his actions to give Roman a hard thought, but now, with the day dawning and the night drawing near, it was all becoming very real.

How strange that I was not even excited anymore about my first sort-of date in years.

It's only because your boss has left you more confused than you've ever been in life.

Of course, that had to be it. I'd been delighted when Roman asked me out. A lot had happened since then, and he'd been pushed to the back of my mind, that's all.

I smiled. I had a date. Sort of.

And I would also have to handle a whole evening beside Mr. Hunter.

My smile faltered. I shook my head. I had to be positive. I was a capable, smart woman. I'd done a lot in the past days, I could sail through this.


A faint buzzing sound drew my attention. It was my phone which sat charging on my dresser. “Hello?”


Hey, there!” Speak of the devil and he shall appear. It was Roman.


Oh!” I almost gasped with surprise. “Roman!”


My breath became short almost immediately. I could never talk to anyone calmly, especially over the phone. My mind always went black. It was frustrating.


He laughed heartily. “I know, I know. It's been a while since we talked, right? Thing is I was out of the country on business. It was sudden, but...” He trailed off.


It's fine,” I assured him, then held the phone away from myself to inhale deeply. “I've been pretty busy myself.”


Has Hunter been giving you a hard time?” he asked.


Oh...” I paused. “No...It's okay, I guess.”


He laughed. “I'll take that as a yes? I know you're too sweet to ever talk badly about anyone.”


I blushed and was at a loss for words. Also, Rachael chose that moment to reappear. She took one look at my face and bounded over.


Is it Roman?” she mouthed. I nodded. “Be cool,” she advised.

“Totally cool.”


Didn't she know me at all? “How was the trip?” I asked, as coolly as I could.


She shook her head. “Breath, Julie.” She waved her arms about, which was just distracting.


Boring,” he replied. “But a man's gotta earn his bread.”


What do you do for a living anyway?” I realized I hadn't asked him, he'd been too busy asking me all the questions when we first met.


I work for my dad.” There was a loud beep on his side, then shouting followed. “Relax, man!” He yelled. “Sorry about that. I'm in a cab.”


Um.”



Go to hell!” he growled. “Can't you see I'm busy? Moron.”


I shivered. Rachael frowned and shuffled closer to me to listen in. “Are you okay?” I asked tentatively.


It's fine. I'm sorry about this, Juliet,” he was apologetic. “Look, I have to go right now, but I'll see you tonight, okay?”


Okay.” I was shaking for some reason. Rachael noticed and rolled her eyes heavenwards. I elbowed her in the ribs.


Ow!” she yelled. “That hurt!”


I tried to cover her mouth with my hand but she dodged me like a snake. “Shut up!” I hissed.


Who's that?” Roman was amused.


Nobody!” I said loudly then, in a lowered voice. “It's just the TV.”


We can't even afford a damn TV!” Rachael whispered. She then proceeded to make the silliest faces.


I stared at her open-mouthed. “Erm.” The sponge was a great missile so I threw it at her.


Missed me!” she giggled, as it bounced off the wall.


I'm going to kill you!” I promised.


Sorry?” said Roman. “What was that?”


Oh!” I looked at my phone. “Erm, I said I'll see you later. At the gala.”


Rachael wiggled her fingers threateningly and advanced my way. “I'm gonna tickle you until you wet your panties.”


I ran into the hallway, trying to find a safe place, but considering our apartment was the exact size of a shoebox there were not a lot of options. “I have to go now!”


I'm looking forward to it.” I heard the smile in his voice as he hung up.


Rachael!” I shouted. She'd miraculously disappeared. “You'd better be hiding somewhere good because I'm coming for you!”


Ooh, I'm so scared!” Her voice taunted me nearby.


You are such a brat.” I was laughing though.


We only had one decent hiding place and that was the closet where we hung our coats. “I can smell you,” I whispered as I drew near it.


She blew a raspberry, ultimately giving away her position. “Brat,” I muttered.


A loud frantic knocking at the front door had me turning away. Rachael poked her head out of the closet. “Who's that?” she said.


I looked at the clock on the wall. “It's them,” I told her. “They're early.


Rachael flung the closet door open and jumped out, running past me

so quickly she was a blur. “I have to see the dress!” she yelled.


I chased her into the hallway. “Wait!” I cried, but it was no avail. She was a wily little cat.


She tore the door open to reveal four men dressed smartly in black.


They were a tall bunch and equally wide. They took up a lot of space.

Rachael blanched and hastily stepped aside to allow me to the front. I gave her my sternest look as she slunk behind me. How many times had I told her never to open the door without checking to see whether it was safe first?


Miss. Juliet Beaumont?” The man leading the pack nodded at me grim faced. He had a puffy face and grey, hooded eyes. A snarl curled his lip. He did not exude friendliness.


The impression that one should not upset this group in any way, shape or form stamped itself clearly in my mind. “Yes." My voice came out shrill and high. “That's me.”


The man craned his neck ever so slightly to take in Rachael who was cowering behind me. “We have some package's for you.”


The two men in the back, who I could have sworn were twins, kept glancing left and right. I noticed their hands were carefully concealed in the pockets of the identical long black coats they wore.


They're packing,” whispered Rachael in my ear. She grabbed the hem of my shirt, and I knew she was afraid. So was I.


These men were terrifying. Marifilwe had gone to extreme lengths to protect the items. Well, who could blame her? They were worth a small mountain of money.


I folded my arms across my chest and nodded. There was no need to show them we were scared, plus, they were not nearly as fearsome as Mr. Hunter. “I've been expecting you.”


Your signature is required before we can proceed.” He handed me a silver clipboard and pen. “Sign there, please.” He pointed to the bottom of the paper.


I signed, feeling conscience of four pairs of eyes on me, not to mention my sister who was carefully twisting my shirt.

When I handed back the clipboard the third man stepped forward. In his arms were many packages. I allowed him to enter our apartment. Rachael scampered off to the kitchen.

I showed the man into our living room, where he deposited the items on the couch as there was nowhere else to put them. I caught a look of repugnance on his young face as he surveyed the room. It came and went in the blink of an eye, but I saw it. Our living quarters were not princely, but it was home. I realized I did not care for his opinion, and just like that, was no longer afraid of them.


Is that all?” I said, all fake sweetness and light.


Yes, Ma'am.” He turned and left, apparently in a hurry to leave.


The others loitered in the hallway.


I held the door open for them as they filed out one by one. “Thank you.”


The man with the clipboard looked at me one more time before uttering a parting grunt and walking away.


Well, that was weird,” I said, after I'd gladly bolted the door. “Rachael? Where are you?”


Of course she was already tearing the packages open in a wild frenzy.


“Easy!” I ordered. “The dress is really delicate.”


Holy cow, Juliet.” She had opened the largest box first, and held the blue gown against herself. “It's beautiful!”


Isn't it just?” I inhaled to slow my racing heart.


In the dewy light of the early morning sun it appeared to glitter and glow. It's deliciously dark colour lit up the entire room, easily glossing over and dominating the homely surroundings with it's intricate beauty.


There's a note. Look.” Rachael handed me a piece of paper.


It's time to get ready for the ball! See you there.

Marifilwe


Check out this lingerie Juliet!” Rachael squealed. “Oh my God! They're from Bergdorf Goodman's!” she gasped “It's from La Perla, the poshest panties in the world!”


I smiled ruefully. “I can't believe this is happening.”


Believe it, because it is happening, and if you're smart you'll enjoy yourself tonight.”


I wanted to, so desperately, but I couldn't forget how all this had come to be. It was all because of Mr. Hunter, who according to Stacy, was going to attempt to seduce me tonight.


Wipe that look off your face,” warned Rachael. “I know that look. That's your thinking face. It's no fun.”


But Rachael. Think about it,” I urged. “This is all from a rich man!”


For goodness sake, Juliet! Tell your conscious to take a hike for the day!” she said irately. “I command you to have a good time. Lord knows you deserve it.”


But--”


No buts,” she said firmly and stalked over to me. She grabbed me by the arms and gave me a little shake. “From this moment on it's all about the gala. Forget everything, Juliet. Who cares how all these wonderful, obscenely expensive goodies came into our hands? They're here now and you're going to put them on. I'm going to do your hair and make-up. You're going to be a knockout. You'll show up all those snooty rich girls.”


If I don't get mugged on the way down,” I muttered.


I'll escort you to your awaiting chariot.”


Who'll escort you back upstairs?”


She let out a frustrated growl. “Woman, if you don't shut up I'll thump you!”


I held up my hands in defeat. When Rachael was reduced to threats of physical violence it was best to quieten down. I still did not feel entirely comfortable with the whole episode, but what could I do? I had no choice. I had to accompany my boss in the evening and I had thus been provided with suitable attire to wear.

I would have to go along with things. If what Stacy believed even hinted at unraveling, well, I would cross that bridge if it ever came to be.

I sincerely hoped it didn't.

I was not an expert in fending off amorous advances as it was a rare, almost non-existent occurrence.


You're still thinking,” Rachael said threateningly.


I'm not, I swear.” If only she knew the extent of my problems. “Let's open the other boxes.”


That appeased Rachael and she was off, tearing open the remaining three packages. She cooed over the shoes before handing them to me.


Try them on,” she ordered. “I want to see how they look on you.”


I obliged, and strutted about the place like a model. “How do you like me now?” I purred seductively.


Ooh, Juliet's getting frisky.” She blew me a kiss.


Check the earrings,” I said, as I carefully slipped out of the shoes.


Gladly.” Rachael was almost giddy as she eased open the small black box with the words Cartier engraved on the top.


We both sighed when she held up the earrings. They were small, but so beautiful, designed in the shape of a leaf with a small diamond hanging from the centre.


These are probably worth more than my soul,” chirped Rachael.


I'd better be careful with them then,” I joked.


You'd better!” she said. “Still if something happens I doubt your Mr. Hunter will be too mad at you,” she added craftily.


He's not my Mr. Hunter.”


Not yet.” She gave me a knowing look.


I sat down on the couch, my heart now heavy, and prayed the evening went smoothly, yet the feeling that something awful would transpire remained present in my stomach, never allowing me to relax for a minute.






© 2013 Joan*Eckhart



Author's Note

Joan*Eckhart
Sweet Chicago! It's been a long time since I posted, you'll have to forgive me, life is a drama queen. We've reached the gala, there is LOADS to come. Loads. I hope you're enjoying the ride.

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I wanted to show readers the relationship between Rachael and Juliet. Since they have been through so much, they are very close. I wanted the bond between them to appear strong and sweet. I hope it comes across like that. Their relationship is inspired my sisters and my own. I also wanted to develop the relationship with Stacy. I like her, she's a feisty little thing. She'll appear more soon.

Posted 4 Years Ago



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Added on June 3, 2013
Last Updated on June 8, 2013
Tags: Love, Romance, Betrayal, Secrets, Obsession, Power, Glamour, Danger


Author

Joan*Eckhart
Joan*Eckhart

United Kingdom



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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart