Home > Dark Intentions

Dark Intentions
Author: Charlotte Byrd

 

 


Prologue

 

 

I have a secret. She doesn't know it yet, but I'll do everything in my power to keep it that way.

I've been watching her.

For a long time.

I saw her going to those bars.

I followed her.

I stayed in the background. I saw her meeting with the guys whose names she couldn't remember.

She's in pain, and so am I.

He was my best friend. We did everything together, but no one could know.

We had this friendship, and now that he's gone, no one will ever know.

 

 

1

 

 

Jacqueline

 

 

My palms are sweaty. My heart is beating out of my chest. The fear I feel is very much real.

I step over the threshold and into the lounge. I shouldn't be afraid. Everything's going to be fine.

This is just a place like any other, I say to myself. But I know that I don't belong. I'm wearing four-inch stilettos and it's my first high-heeled shoe in years.

My dress hugs my curves a little too tightly. But by the way that the men sitting around the bar look at me, I can tell that they like what they see.

I can do this, I say to myself, but of course, liquid courage is going to go a long way to making that happen.

I beeline for the bar and ask the bartender for a martini. I spin around on the swivel chair and look around the room. The club is set up into different areas. There's a place to lounge near the entrance with couches and overstuffed chairs. Then there's the more formal bar area with a spot to order the drinks and to sit and chat with the bartender. For those who want some privacy, a few tall circular tables give you a chance to crowd around in an intimate way.

A cacophony of sounds rushes above my head. The light is low, romantic, but also very masculine; a lot of grays and blues, but flattering, nevertheless.

“How are you?" Someone walks up to me. He has dark hair and his suit is a bit too shiny, but nevertheless flattering. I see how his muscles press against the fabric.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot another guy and the crestfallen expression on his face when he realizes that he has missed his shot. He turns to his friends with regret.

“Hey,” the guy in front of me says to catch my attention. "I'm Damian."

“Nice to meet you, Damian.” I extend my hand.

That might be his real name. It might not. That's sort of how the game is played in places like this.

“I'm Jacqueline,” I say, extending my hand, suddenly keenly aware of the fact that my real name has slipped out.

That was a mistake.

“Nice to meet you, Jackie.”

I cringe. I don’t like the nickname and I don’t like him presupposing that he can call me something I didn’t say.

“What brings you to a place like this?”

“I guess a guy like you," I say, leaning on the glass bar top. “What is it that you do?”

“A little bit of everything. I'm a videographer, weddings, proms, and occasional funerals.”

“People want videos of funerals?” I ask, genuinely surprised.

He shrugs. He's making stuff up. I can tell. That's what Cassandra recommended. It's better to go with a fake name and occupation.

Of course, she didn't use the word fake.

“This is a place where you explore a new identity,” she said, in the rich soothing voice of a digital virtual assistant. “When you come here, we want you to put the rest of your life away.”

Tuck it into a small box and keep it far away from here, I think to myself sarcastically.

Did Damian get the same speech? I wonder. If so and this is the best that he can come up with, I'm not really interested. No matter how good looking he is.

We chat for a little bit longer, and I finish my drink and excuse myself.

Maybe this was a bad idea. I don't even know what I'm doing here. This is for people who are bored, and rich, and tired of the lives that they’re living. Of course, that sort of qualifies me except for the rich part. And the bored part. I'm neither.

I’m more like desperate and possibly, a little dysfunctional. Still, before I got here, I was intrigued, nervous, a little horrified, plenty terrified, but nevertheless, interested.

Now, it just feels like another bar with more bullshit and lies.

And I just don't know if I want that. Despite the fictions that people spew about their names, and who they are, and these other lives they lead, the conversation that we have is supposed to be genuine.

We're supposed to make a real connection on this level that is beyond superficial. Because in reality, it's not about their job or what they look like necessarily.

It's more about the spark that you feel when you're in their presence.

Someone bumps into me and I spill my drink on the floor.

"Sorry about that.”

“Fine,” I mumble. I’m annoyed that I now have to scramble to clean this up before someone slips.

But then a waitress in a short, black straight leg suit comes over with a rag and escorts us to a nearby empty couch.

“Please don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything,” she says.

“The waiters here aren't dressed exactly very sexy, are they?" I say, sitting down across from this new stranger.

He leans back in his seat and looks me up and down very careful.

“That's the point, I guess,” he says. “For all of us to pay attention to each other, rather than them. They're the distraction.”

“And what are we?” I ask, suddenly feeling a little bit nervous at the intensity of his gaze.

“We're the main attraction,” he says without missing a beat.

I take a sip of the new martini that the waitress brings and wait for this man to look away. But he doesn't. His gaze is laser-focused on me.

Suddenly, a little spark wakes up within me, a little spark that I didn't even know I had.

“What brings you here?” I ask.

“No, no, no. That's one of the rules, remember?” He shakes his head from side to side.

Cassandra’s soothing robotic voice comes back to me as I sat in her glass office going over the contract.

"You are forbidden to talk about what brought you here,” she said. “You are forbidden to talk about anything tragic or disturbing, and you are encouraged to make up a fantasy of who you are based on who you want to be. If you project an image of your ideal self, then you will become your ideal self.”

 

 

2

 

 

Jacqueline

 

 

"Okay, so tell me something about you," I say.

"Something true?" he asks, narrowing his eyes. I like this vibe. It’s nothing like that other guy’s.

I nod. This might be part of a game or it might not be. I don't know. "I fly around the world. I never spend more than a week in one place. I run an international company with clients everywhere."

"What kind of company?"

"I underwrite high-risk loans.”

“You can’t do it online?”

“Nope, I have to do it the old-fashioned way. Meet in person, evaluate the head of the company, decide whether financing will be possible."

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