Chapter Six

Chapter Six

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart
"

Stuff happens!

"

May I speak to Roman?” I said shakily as I sat on the counter with my legs crossed firmly beneath me.


It was late at night and Rachael and I were in the darkened kitchen. It had taken her an hour to convince me to make the call, as, coward that I am, I'd been to terrified to do so without provocation. I'd even begged her to do it on my behalf. She'd flatly refused.


Juliet?” He sounded a little out of breath, like he'd been jogging.


Hello?” I cringed at Rachael, who rolled her eyes at me and shook her head.


Hey!” he cried happily when he recognized me. “What's up?”


I took a deep breath. “I just called to let you know I won't be able to accompany you on Saturday night.”


There was a pause. “Why?” he said quietly.


It's my boss,” I said quickly. “As it turns out, it's his company who's throwing the gala, so I'll be working that night.” I didn't mention that I thought it strange that he did not know it was my boss's company that was hosting the gala.


Oh, that's too bad,” He said, his tone light.


I couldn't gouge his emotion, which was frustrating. Was he was relieved? Disappointed? I couldn't tell.


I'm sorry.”


Don't be,” he said. “It's not your fault.”


Are you still going to be there?”


Yes.”


Oh.”


Look, Juliet. I'm upset we can't go together.” I smiled. He was upset. “But I don't see why we can't hang out together while we're there.”


But I'll be working.” I couldn't imagine Mr. Hunter giving me permission to gallivant about the place with a man.


So what?” he said flippantly. “I'll sneak you away so I can have you to myself for a while.”


I raised an eyebrow at Rachael, who's ear was glued to the phone. She smirked at me and gave me a thumbs up. “Erm, okay.”


Don't worry, We'll have fun, even if you're going to be working.” He was so convinced, I believed him.


So I'll see you Saturday?”


Try and stop me,” he laughed.


Sounds like you've got an admirer,” said Rachael, beaming from ear to ear, after I'd hung up.


I grinned back at her inanely. “It would appear so.”


Could it be true? Even if not, the lightness I was feeling in my heart that second was almost enough to make me delirious. As such events were rare in my life, I wanted to relish every second should it be fleeting.


I can't believe it. First there's that Josh guy chasing you,” said Rachael, counting on her fingers. “Then there's your deranged boss hunting you, excuse the pun.”


He's not hunting me,” I said sharply. “Making my life difficult, yes, but other then that...” I'd finally come clean with Rachael and told her mine (and Stacy's) assumptions about what I believed about Mr. Hunter. She'd been upset I hadn't discussed it with her first, but thought I was on to something.


Juliet, the man is into you. Trust me,” said Rachael solemnly. “He just has a non-traditional way of showing it.”


You're wrong,” I said, hopping off the counter. “I was also wrong, so was Stacy. Why would he even be interested in someone like me?”


I saw now that the idea of Mr. Hunter harbouring any feelings for me was ludicrous. He was above my station in life. I felt embarrassed that I had thought those things, even more so that I'd shared them with Stacy. I had allowed my imagination to run away with me yet again.


Rachael strode to the tiny fridge that stood in the corner to take out a bottle of water. “Sometimes, my lovely sister, you can be incredibly dense.” I frowned at her back. “I'm too tired to go over the very obvious points that prove me right-I'd rather sleep. But I think it will all become clear to you in the coming days. Then you'll see that you were right all along. But be careful, Juliet,” she warned. “I'd say danger follows that guy, or.” She fixed me with a stern gaze. “He is the dangerous one.”


Then I should keep away from him,” I retorted.


You should,” she returned soberly. “But you probably won't.”


***


I was determined to prove my sister wrong as I entered the workplace the following morning. She didn't know what she was talking about, neither did Stacy. Mr. Hunter was absolutely not interested in me in any way. I was also filled with extreme anxiety as I made my up to the top floor. I would have to spend yet another day alone serving him without any help from Stacy. After the frantic events of yesterday I didn't think my heart can take any more of his ever changing mood shifts.

All too quickly I found myself sitting at my desk, glancing furtively now and again for any sign of him. Jane had informed me at the front desk he had arrived early, which immediately made me feel like I was late, even though I wasn't.

I checked the phone obsessively to see if it was ringing. I would not miss a call from him again. Today I wore a simple black shift dress with reasonable heeled shoes. If I needed to run today I would be able to.

I had entertained the notion of not coming to work today, but couldn't think up a believable excuse to go through with it-not that Rachael would have allowed me to. She would never allow me to give up, and truth be told, I didn't want to either. Something inside me would not allow myself to give James Hunter the satisfaction of knowing he had frightened away yet another person. I wasn't sure, but I suspected I had begun to believe in myself. I felt different, there was something inside me that wanted to get out. I hoped it wasn't a monster.

There was also the issue of what I was going to wear to the gala. I had never been to such an event before and had no clue as to what I would be expected to wear. I would have to ask someone, perhaps Jane. She and I were becoming fast friends. I wondered if she would be attending too, having her there would do me the world of good. I was having trouble not hyperventilating at the mere thought of Saturday night which was approaching alarmingly fast.

I rocked back and forth in my chair anxiously for a few minutes, then decided to utilize my nervous energy by reading through the e-mails that I knew must be waiting for me.

I was right, as ever there was a mountain correspondence to get through. It was enough to distract me for a while.


When the phone rang I froze for just a millisecond before answering it. “Yes, sir?”


Get in here now,” he snapped, then hung up.


Charming,” I muttered, placing the receiver down.


As I neared his desk, I imagined his office had been thrown into semi-darkness, or was it just my mind playing tricks? It was as if I were in a dark cave, slowly finding my way towards a monster. He really did not like the light.


He watched me closely as I approached. Naturally I became more nervous, but focused hard on not tripping.


Yes, sir?” I glanced at him quickly. He did not appear to be in too awful a mood.


He held an envelope in his hand which he tossed onto the desk. “This is for you,” he informed me matter-of-factly. “Use it.”


I stared at it. “What is it, sir?”


He didn't reply, just fixed me with an look so hard that I picked it up myself to avoid further conversation with him.


Inside was a black credit card. I instantly recognized it as Rachael and I had seen it on some programme on the “E!” channel. It was an American Express Centurion Card, or, “the card rich people use”, as Rachael bluntly put it.


I looked at him in confusion. “What is this?”


It's yours,” he told me.


I swallowed hard when I recognized what he meant. I couldn't believe it. This was something someone like myself could not even hope to possess, yet he had tossed it at me with the utmost casualness. This was madness. Since when did an employer give limitless amounts of funds to those who worked for them?


I can't,” I whispered. I held it away from me, as if it were about to go off.


Yet again he began to stare at me severely, but this time I would not relent. I would not accept it. I did not know what he meant by this gesture, but I was having none of it.


I'm sorry, but I cannot accept this.” For the first time in my life there was a firmness to my tone. A confidence.


There was a slight pause from him. A shadow passed over his face and his jaw clenched. I was making him angry again.


Do you wish to keep your job, Miss Beaumont?” He asked dryly.


Despite my resolution, I nodded. I did not want him to go off on a tirade like yesterday. I didn't fancy having my head ripped off again.


Then you will take it.” He leaned back in his chair and narrowed his eyes. “That will be all.”


I blinked, opened my mouth, shut it, then shook my head. It was not exactly the greatest defense for my beliefs, I know, but I could not form the words I wanted to speak, even though they sat in my head.


I said.” His voice rose an octave. “That will be all.”


Dumbly, I turned around and walked out, defeated.


***


I sat at my desk twirling the card between my fingers. I couldn't believe what had just occurred. I could believe, however, that, yet again, I had allowed someone to impose their will on me. I was weak. When would I take a stand for myself?

The card gleamed before my eyes. It was shiny, clean and so elegant. It did not belong with me.

I sighed. What did he expect me to do with it? Go on a wild shopping spree? No doubt Rachael would have had it been thrust upon her. I would have to keep it hidden from her.

Maybe I could discard it? Say I had lost it? That was not too uncommon, but I knew he would easily replace it. I still didn't understand why he'd given it to me in the first place. He had offered no explanation whatsoever.

I just didn't know what to do. I knew I would never use it, there was just no way I would use his money for anything. I was too proud for that. I would rather be penniless.

What did the card mean? What sort of gesture was it? Why, just why would anyone do something like that? What did it all mean?

Many thoughts came at me like bullets, leaving me physically drained. Then a thought entered my mind that was so disturbing, I sat stock still in my seat.

Was this how he began his relationships with women?

Did he exert his great fortune and power in front of women to help lead them astray?

I knew money was an aphrodisiac for many people, especially women. Did this help to lure them into his web?

I knew then I simply had to return the card somehow, because if I didn't then it would mean I too wanted what he wanted.

Whatever that was.

I tugged my hair absentmindedly. Was I reading too much into this? He had noticed my clothes, after all, and he had not approved. Perhaps I was letting the company's image down, and he'd had no choice but to give me funds to acquire decent clothing? He did not appear the sort of man to possess an iota of pity for his fellow human being, of that I was quite certain. Then I must be an embarrassment to him. That had to be it.

I held my head in my hands. Why did he have to confound me like this? I'd gone on a shopping spree and bought a mountain of clothing. It looked like that was not good enough for James Hunter. Rachael had assured me I looked great, but apparently, according to him, I lacked something.


Stuck up snob,” I muttered under my breath.


I shuffled papers a little too roughly about the place and glowered at the telephone, daring it to ring. In my head I let loose with a selection of choice words I would never have to courage to say to his face. It was so typical of me, but, nonetheless, made me feel better.

After re-shuffling some more papers I tired of pretending I was working. I looked around the room. Considering I was working for one of the most powerful men in the world, there didn't appear to be very much to do around here. Not that I was complaining. The less responsibility I was handed, the less chance I had of messing up.

I was grateful when lunchtime abounded. I wasn't particularly hungry, but it would mean a chance for fresh air.

With my bag in my hand I headed to Mr. Hunters office to inform him. The sound of the elevator doors stopped me before I had reached halfway across the room. Someone had entered the office floor.

I turned to see a woman advancing toward me at full speed. I gaped at her.

She was tall and appeared beautiful from a distance, but as she drew closer I saw she wore too much make-up, which distorted her features. Her hair was as black as ink, there was so much of it, it spilled in every direction. My eyes were drawn to her lips, which were painted blood red. I was immediately intimidated, but tried not to show it.


Are you Juliet Beaumont?” she boomed, in a heavy Italian accent.


Erm, yes.” I clutched my bag tightly. I actually thought she was about to attack me, there was so much fire in her eyes, like a soldier would have in war.


Excellent, excellent.” She held her hand out to me. Before I had a chance to do the same, she grabbed my hand and shook it, pumping almost violently. “My name is Nicci Fulvia. Perhaps you have heard of me, ay? I am personal shopper to the very wealthy.”


I had no clue who she was, but smiled inanely as I processed her words, which were a little difficult to decipher.


Personal shopper to the very wealthy?


What on earth was she doing here? Did she have an appointment with Mr. Hunter that I didn't know about? I asked her.


She shook her head. “No, no. I am here for you. I have cancelled two meetings with very wealthy clients to be here. All on Mr. Hunters say so.” She made it clear in her tone that I was to be grateful for her sacrifice.


Me?” I was flabbergasted. “But I--” I looked around the room, as if an answer lay around somewhere for me. “I don't understand. I'm supposed to take lunch now.”


Nicci looked disgusted with my words. “Lunch?” she spat, with a glare. “As from now you do not eat until I say so.” She grabbed my arm and steered me toward the elevator. “Food is for the weak!”


I had no answer for that, and could do nothing as she half dragged me away from my post. Nicci Fulvia was incredibly strong. “I have to tell Mr. Hunter I'm leaving!” I cried helplessly.


He knows, woman!” barked Nicci, jabbing the call button with a very sharp talon. “Did you not hear what I said? I am here on his insistence.”


He didn't tell me,” I muttered, as she led me inside the elevator.


I was released only when the doors slid shut. She turned assessing eyes on me, looking me up and down, folding her arms, then looking some more. Finally, she tutted. Whether it was in approval, I was not sure.


You have nice figure.” She stared at my shoes with distaste as she spoke. “Very nice. A little too tall, but I can work with it.”


Erm, thanks.” I was afraid if I did not thank her she would slap me.


You are natural girl, nothing fake. Not like the others,” she continued, now blowing gently on her neon pink manicured fingernails, which had to be at least four inches long.


The others?


I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I was desperate to call Rachael, or Stacy, in fact, I was ready to call anybody at that moment. I needed to know, to understand, what was happening with me. Why did Mr. Hunter send for Nicci Fulvia, apparent shopper to the well-heeled, to take me shopping? Why on earth had he given me that card? What did it all mean?


As if she were a psychic, Nicci aired the question that I was asking myself. “So, what goes on between you and Mr. Hunter, ay?”


I blushed furiously, and she smiled a secret, knowing smile. “Ah, I see. They all fall for his, ahem, charms, do they not?”


I wanted to protest vigorously. I wanted to tell her that I had not-and would never-fall for his charms. This was all just him trying to enhance my wardrobe to his high standards. It had to be. I refused to believe otherwise.


Nicci escorted me out of the lobby and into a black Audi which sat waiting for us on the kerb outside the building. I slid across the seat, right up to the window so I could stare moodily at the people outside. It looked like I was going shopping with someone else's money. I was not happy. It was insulting on so many levels, yet I could do nothing to stop it. As ever, I was powerless. That realization made me angry.


Take us to Michigan Avenue,” Nicci ordered the driver, who nodded and set off.


I raised an eyebrow. Of course we were heading to one of the most affluent areas of Chicago, where one could find the most prestigious clothing boutiques, expensive restaurants and high-end department stores awaiting them. I hadn't even dreamed of walking the Magnificent Mile (as it was popularly know) yet here I was on my way there.


To spend someone else's money.


The wicked voice in my head hissed those words at me as we sped closer to our destination. Not even the sight of the famous Chicago Water Tower cheered me.

I sat, arms folded, in total silence. Mr. Hunter was truly a force to be reckoned with. Why was I so surprised?


Nicci's phone rang. “Shh!” she snapped at me, even though I hadn't said a word. “Hello, darling! I am so glad you called.” I wondered if the insincerity in which she spoke was as obvious to the caller as it was to me.


Oh, no, no, no, darling!” she trilled loudly. I winced as her voice became higher, almost a shrill. “You know I would do anything for you, but, alas, I cannot. I cannot. That is impossible.” Nicci turned her head towards me, then turned slyly in her seat to whisper hurriedly into the receiver.


I looked away hastily out the window. We passed Bloomingdales, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. I watched them pass me by. I'd always wanted to shop at Bloomingdales, ever since I was a little girl. Hopefully, one day Rachael and I could.

Soon we had entered an even more upscale area (if that were possible), where only the most exclusive and expensive designer boutiques were situated. Only the incredibly wealthy dared walk these parts.


The Burberry store really caught my eye. With an LED-illuminated chrome black glass front which flaunted the brands iconic print, it was hard to look anywhere else. I felt an urge to go inside. Of course, I stepped on that mischievous urge with my heel immediately. I refused to be drawn into this world and all it had to offer.


To my disbelief the car slowed to a stop outside a simple, white bricked, elegant building with the words Chanel emblazoned on the front. I gawked openly. This was our destination?


I sagged in my seat. This was ridiculous. I couldn't go in there. I was poor, for goodness sake!


Nicci snapped her phone shut and turned to me. “Let's go.”


I looked at the building again. Two very well dressed ladies entered the premises. Even from where I sat I could tell their clothes were worth more than my entire apartment.


I can't go in there,” I protested. “I can't afford anything in that place, even you know that.”


“I know you can't.” She stuck her large nose in the air like I was a poodle who had soiled itself. “But Mr. Hunter can.”


“What?”


Oh, come now, girl. I can tell from one look at you that you cannot even afford to use the toilet in there.” I opened my mouth as if to protest, but what could I say? She was right. “But Mr. Hunter told me, in explicit terms, that no expense should be spared today. Now, come.” She got out of the car without another word.


With no other choice I followed her to the entrance where a young doorman held open the door for us to enter with a welcoming smile.


“Hello, Henri,” acknowledged Nicci as she strode past him.


My face was alabaster red as I slipped past him, tripping along the way. My legs shook with each step I took. Once inside I couldn't help but look around in absolute awe.


I was inside the wonderful world of Chanel!


I had never been somewhere so amazing. Even the air circulating around us seemed to scream wealth.

I bit my lip to halt the traitorous smile that wanted to spread on my lips.

But I couldn't help but feel a little elated. This was, after all, a place most girls would never get to encounter.


Beautiful, no?” Apparently Nicci was psychic and could read minds.

I nodded, biting my lip harder.


The interior of the store was subtle as I'd expected it to be with wide open spaces, neatly lined racks of clothes for browsing, and lots of lights so that everything appeared to have an ethereal glow.

Rows and rows of delicately crafted shoes sat on glass shelves, while women walking past cooed over them, as if they were newborn babies.


Come,” ordered Nicci, taking my arm.


This time I had no qualms about her directing me. I was too distracted by all that was placed around me. I felt like I was in a candy store. I did not know where to look. I was hypnotized.


Focus, Beaumont.


I needed to bring myself back to earth.


Mr. Hunter brought you here, silly girl.


I couldn't let myself be seduced by the beauty that surrounded me. Where were my morals? A man-and his wallet-were the reason I had stepped foot in here. Usually, women who lived on the behest of a man frustrated me. Now it seemed I was one of them.


It was that thought that sobered me.


Aah.” Nicci smiled as she spotted someone across the room. “There you are, Marifilwe.”


A woman dressed smartly in a cream and black Chanel suit walked towards us with a wide beaming smile upon her face. Obviously she worked here, but she was not beautiful, as I had ridiculously assumed people working here would be, no. She had a rather plain face, with brown eyes, dark brown skin and poker straight black hair. It was her smile, however, that drew you in. It was honest and truthful. It was radiant. I instinctively believed she was kind.


Nicci.” Marifilwe embraced Nicci on both cheeks, then turned to me.

I smiled shyly at her. Her eyes crinkled with her returning smile.


“Hello,” I said.


She took her warm hand in mine and greeted me. For once, I was not intimidated. “Hello,” she said, a little more politely, with more professionalism to her manner.


This is Juliet Beaumont,” said Nicci, peering over my shoulder absently to eye someone behind me. “She will be needing your assistance today.” She made it sound as if I were a lost cause. “You will need to put those famous skills to good use.”


I don't think it will require too much effort.” Marifilwe seemed amused.


Show me what you have for me.” Nicci's brusque tone did not appear to bother Marifilwe as she chuckled and guided us to the back of the store, away from the others.


She pulled back a burgundy velvet curtain to allow us to enter the back of the store. We were now in a large room, with cream colored walls, floor to wall mirrors and flattering lighting. In the middle was placed an elegant glass table with white marble legs. On top of it were various shoes, diamond jewelry that twinkled like pretty stars and a collection of evening purses. It was like being in a wealthy ladies dressing room.


Excellent, excellent,” muttered Nicci as she inspected the items on the table, arms folded behind her back like a general. “This is good. I like it.”


I knew you would.” Marifilwe simply smiled. I tore my eyes away from the shoes to watch the ladies banter.


You have the dresses I asked for?” Nicci eyed Marifilwe suspiciously.


It was short notice,” nodded Marifilwe. “But, yes, I made a few phone calls, and we were able to make arrangements for Mr. Hunters guest.”


They both turned to look at me. I swallowed hard. “You know her size, no?” asked Nicci, completely ignoring me.


Yes.” Marifilwe glanced at me quickly. “I don't think there will be any problems in that department.”


How they had managed to figure out my dress size was a wonder. I never ever gave anybody that sensitive information.


Shoe size?” continued Nicci.


Yes.” replied Marifilwe.


Underwear?”


It has been taken care of.”


I could only stare at the ladies as they discussed my intimate measurements in a cavalier way which was only insulting. Had someone put my personal information on the internet? Or had Mr. Hunter sent a spy to my home who analyzed me in my sleep? How were they doing this?


Miss. Beaumont, forgive my ill-manners.” Marifilwe clasped her hands together suddenly as if she had just realized what she was doing. “It is most rude of us to discuss you like this. It's just that the morning was so hectic after I received the phone call from Mr. Hunter. I've been rushing around like a a madwoman trying to get everything he wanted done as per his wishes.” I saw a faint blush appear on her cheeks. “You know what he is like.”


I suddenly felt bad for her. I did not want to imagine what hell he had brought down on this poor woman, if only to get his own way. “It's okay,” I assured her. “And please call me Juliet.”


If you ladies are finished.” Nicci looked nauseous at this display of human emotion. “We have work to do.”


Of course.” Marifilwe squared her shoulders. “Let's begin.”


I braced myself for whatever lay in store for me.






© 2013 Joan*Eckhart


Author's Note

Joan*Eckhart
I'm not from Chicago, have never been, so if there are any mistakes concerning the shops, etc, then it's my bad.

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Featured Review

“my up to the top floor” I think that you missed a word here.

“iota” What’s this word mean?

“inanely” What does this word mean?

“like a a madwoman” You put “a” here twice.

Geez, can you believe this guy? He just arranges things for her without her consent. If I were her, I would just tell those ladies to give her the cheapest and that this all was a misunderstanding. Some “charm” that he has. Man if I were her, I would tell them the story about not letting her go to lunch or the one about the coffee just to show that she was forced into this. Or better yet, let Racheal knock some sense into his rich, arrogant head. God, I hate people who think that they can buy your love. I’m glad that she’s not falling for it. Sorry for huffing and puffing. Hope what I mentioned above helps. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Miranda

8 Years Ago

Wait, so does he like cry when nobody's talking to him or something? Does he have a soft side?
Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

I wouldn't call it a soft side. He is quite complicated. He's not evil but then he's not the good gu.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

Oh..... I think I get it now. :P


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Reviews

“my up to the top floor” I think that you missed a word here.

“iota” What’s this word mean?

“inanely” What does this word mean?

“like a a madwoman” You put “a” here twice.

Geez, can you believe this guy? He just arranges things for her without her consent. If I were her, I would just tell those ladies to give her the cheapest and that this all was a misunderstanding. Some “charm” that he has. Man if I were her, I would tell them the story about not letting her go to lunch or the one about the coffee just to show that she was forced into this. Or better yet, let Racheal knock some sense into his rich, arrogant head. God, I hate people who think that they can buy your love. I’m glad that she’s not falling for it. Sorry for huffing and puffing. Hope what I mentioned above helps. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Miranda

8 Years Ago

Wait, so does he like cry when nobody's talking to him or something? Does he have a soft side?
Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

I wouldn't call it a soft side. He is quite complicated. He's not evil but then he's not the good gu.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

Oh..... I think I get it now. :P

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Added on March 4, 2013
Last Updated on March 6, 2013
Tags: Love, Romance, Betrayal, Secrets, Obsession, Power, Danger


Author

Joan*Eckhart
Joan*Eckhart

United Kingdom



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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart