Authors: Tiffany Ashley
Len and Raja weren’t as guarded. They gave polite nods to everyone in the room and just about threw themselves at Elliot. She watched in horror as they asked him random questions about the club, each trying to outdo the other to hold his attention the longest. Elliot charmed them with his good looks and flirtatious finesse. Whether she wanted to or not, Thandie was drawn to the sound of his voice.
“You are both very lovely ladies,” Elliot said silkily. “We’re fortunate to have you here. I’m sure the men of Miami will soon be begging for a moment of your time.”
“You think so?” Len’s voice had turned unrecognizably high-pitched.
“Of course.” Elliot leaned forward to pin each girl with those enchanting silver eyes of his. “Promise not to forget me when some lucky guy sweeps you off your feet.”
The eruption of girlish laughter was like hearing fingernails being dragged across a chalkboard. Thandie had to turn away from the train wreck. She forced herself to listen to Adam and Rex argue over which one of them would introduce her to tonight’s guest DJ. She put a halt to the dispute when she insisted that both of them should do the honors. Markie offered to give the girls a tour of the arena. However, she didn’t miss that his eyes lingered on Raja when he spoke. Thandie inwardly groaned. Keeping everyone on task seemed to be a bigger undertaking than she’d expected.
She was grateful when Elliot called everyone’s attention back to tomorrow’s agenda. Markie and Adam spoke at length, while everyone nodded and listened attentively. Tom and Eddie made a few short comments before Rex took center stage. He was the marketing director, so Thandie was more interested in what he had to say. Even Raja and Len managed to tear their eyes away from Elliot long enough to listen to Rex recap his current projects. When the meeting was over, Adam, Markie and Rex escorted Thandie down to the arena. She had to literally call out to the girls to get them to follow her.
The club was already in high gear. Miami’s most beautiful and affluent residents laughed together and swayed their hips to the steady pulsation of a bewitching tempo.
Markie held out his arm to Thandie and guided her through the crowd. The girls followed closely behind, oohing and ahhing at just about everything.
In a low voice, Markie explained the wait staff’s table system and zone layout. He pointed out the hidden surveillance cameras, which were discreetly mounted above the cash registers at every bar. Markie led them backstage to meet a few of the dancers. Immediately, the dancers knew who Thandie was. Unfortunately, it was not from her reputation. Apparently, pictures of Ruark Randall kissing her at Phenomenon weeks earlier was beginning to make news. According to the dancers,
was reporting that she was Ruark’s new girlfriend.
Thandie rationalized that any press a PR agent created was good, but she failed to see the joy in her connection with actor Ruark Randall. He was an idiot. At any rate, it seemed to gain her an unreasonable amount of respect from the dancers. Thandie chatted with them while Markie continued to show Len and Raja the building. The girls didn’t seem to mind losing Thandie on the tour. It was their first time inside Club Babylon, and they were eager to see everything.
Thandie didn’t see Raja and Len until an hour later, after Adam introduced her to Ibiza native, DJ Von. The girls appeared to be having a good time. They were working the VIP room and dancing with club members.
Thandie was more at ease when she was able to clearly see the girls and know they were not up to their usual devilry. Involuntarily, Thandie caught herself searching the crowd for Elliot. It was unexplainable. She was in a constant state of alert until she found him. It took several tries before she spied him on the upper level in the VIP lounge. He was much closer than she’d expected; no farther than twenty feet away from where she stood. He was seated in a booth chatting with a couple. Like Elliot, the man was very handsome. But where Elliot was dark-haired, the stranger at his side was blond. A flash of his intense blue eyes was enough to stamp his appeal. Even from this distance, Thandie could see the lilt of his lips give way to an arrogant expression. She recognized a man born to wealth when she saw one. It was never what they wore or what elaborate toys they owned—it was the unshaken self-confidence that radiated from them.
At the man’s side was an attractive woman. She laughed prettily at the blond man, keeping a possessive hand in his lap, lest any woman mistake him for being available. Thandie wondered who the couple was. Judging by Elliot’s presence at their table, and length of time he was investing, these were personal friends of his. Or at least one of them was. Clearly, Elliot knew the blond-haired man well.
Thandie continued to watch them. More specifically, she watched Elliot. There was something about him that intrigued her. She couldn’t put it into words, but Elliot had a certain appeal that was enchanting. And yet as strongly as he captivated her, he frightened her. She was leery of him, not daring to get too close and yet...she was fascinated all the same.
Like a moth to a flame,
Her attention was snatched away when Adam stepped to her side. Taking her elbow in his hand, he twirled her around to introduce her to someone. Thandie was forced to turn her back on Elliot and his friends and focus on a tall, rather plain-looking gentleman. Adam presented him as the broadcaster for a leading pop radio show in Miami.
Eager to make a positive impression, Thandie dived into conversation with the man. It did not take long to figure out he was more interested in leering at her breasts than listening to her. Not that this surprised her overly much. She’d chosen to wear a mini dress, covered in simmering cheetah sequins. There was no cleavage to be seen, however the fabric pulled tight across her chest, emphasizing the fullness of her breasts. Although long sleeved, the dress was far from modest. The drastic cut of the garment exposed her entire back, before gathering together just above the rise of her buttocks.
A key factor of being a club promoter was to look the part. It was her job to make the environment look desirable. And since most clubs were owned and managed by men, she’d learned long ago to use her natural assets to her advantage. She no longer took notice when men ogled her. She expected it, at least while she was working. And putting on a flirtatious smile for Adam’s guest was definitely working.
Thandie chatted with the two men for a while, soon losing track of the time. When she looked up again to check on the girls, she was startled to find they were not there. Her gaze flickered to Elliot. He was gone as well, and so were his friends. Their booth was now occupied by an ensemble of pouty model-like beauties who appeared to be on the hunt for wealthy men.
Thandie searched for Len and Raja. They were nowhere in sight. A bad sign for certain. Left unsupervised for any length of time, the girls were prone to get into trouble. Thandie stepped toward the balcony and looked over the VIP lounge. Not a hint of either girl.
She turned cautious eyes to the glass wall which overlooked the arena floor below and gave an aquarium view of the upper levels of the club. It would be impossible to spot the girls amongst the throng of dancing partygoers. She would have to walk the club in hopes of finding them. She groaned. Her feet had begun to hurt nearly an hour ago. She would not be pleased if she had to walk a mile in her beautiful, but crippling, heels.
Just as she made up her mind to do that, she caught sight of movement. The wall to her right opened up, revealing a small compartment. It was the elevator that led to the Tower.
The silent hiss as the doors slid open was like a quiet invitation. Very tempting.
Suddenly, Thandie remembered the “something” she’d forgotten to tell the girls earlier. She had not warned them to avoid the Tower. Is that where they were? Were Len and Raja touring an area of the club Elliot himself had ruled off limits? It was certainly possible. Before her imagination went into overdrive, Thandie determined she would search the lower levels first, before fretting over the Tower.
Excusing herself from Adam’s side, she took the steps down to the lower levels. She saw no recognizable faces on either level. She proceeded to the arena floor. Unlike the sleek relaxed vibe of the VIP lounges, the main arena was rowdier and dramatically more crowded. There was a buzz of frenzied excitement in the large expanse. It was the kind of atmosphere Len and Raja would escape to. Thandie walked a slow lap around the edge of the dance floor, examining the faces. It did not take long before someone took hold of her hand and asked her to dance. She was agreeable, mainly because this angle allowed her a good view of most of the arena floor and the steps leading up to the VIP entrance. After dancing through a few songs, with no luck spotting the girls, she excused herself from her dance partner and continued her pursuit.
Thandie’s aching feet soon got the better of her. She quickly gave up the hunt for the girls, looking to sit down instead. The crowded arena offered few seats, and all appeared to be occupied.
With a sigh of annoyance, Thandie made her way back to VIP. She was grateful when one of the Babylon employees held his hand out to her to help her up the steps. The balls of her feet felt as if they were on fire, getting worse with every step she took. She looked around for an available seat in the packed room. She went to the next upper level, but it was just as crammed. She couldn’t even find a place to lean against the bar.
She looked for Adam to ask if he knew where there was extra seating, but he was serving club members. Thandie waited for him to wrap up, but the group didn’t seem willing to let him go any time soon. After fifteen agonizing minutes, she was feeling rather desperate. She went to the hidden elevator, punched in the code she remembered Adam using and rode it up the Tower. Thandie sagged against the wall and embraced the sudden quiet the elevator provided.
When the doors opened, she had to adjust her eyes to the dimness. The room was lit only by candlelight. Blindly, she stepped forward, unable to blink anything into focus. Abruptly, the elevator doors closed behind her, and she was surrounded by darkness. The sound of music hummed in the background, filling the room with a sensuality as thick as smoke.
Suddenly, a strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her into the hard surface of muscled flesh. Thandie looked up to see the silver eyes of Elliot Richards. He did not look happy to see her.
He leaned his head down low enough to whisper in her ear. “I believe I told you not to come up here.”
The sheer size of him was unnerving. He was even more impressive up close, not a blemish or hair out of place. It was really quite insane for one man to be so breathtakingly beautiful. Her blood felt as if it was boiling beneath her skin, and a slow ball of heat was growing in the pit of her stomach.
“Are you going to answer me?” he growled down at her.
“Huh?” Wrapped in his powerful arms, words seemed complicated to create.
“What are you doing up here?” he snapped.
“I—I came up here looking for a place to sit down.”
“Couldn’t you find a chair downstairs?”
“The place is packed.”
He frowned. “Well, there isn’t much room to sit down up here, but there are plenty of places to fuck.”
She turned her head to look around the room. Thandie would have fainted if it weren’t for Elliot holding her up. Her eyes finally adjusted to the dim lighting to reveal a room full of naked bodies. Every corner of the room was occupied by screwing couples; some were groups satisfying each other. She gasped to see three men pleasuring a moaning woman at the same time. Horrified, Thandie buried her face into Elliot chest to block out the scene around her. Only now did she realize the whole room was moaning, grunting, and delivering cries of ecstasy.
“You deliberately ignored my request,” he said in a low voice.
She shook with mortification. “I—I had no idea,” she stammered. “I thought—thought—I’ll leave.” She tried to push away from him, but he wouldn’t allow it. He pulled her closer to him.
“You can’t leave,” he said.
“Oh, yes, I can,” she nearly shouted. If he thought he was going to hold her hostage, then he was sadly mistaken. “Let me go.”
“Be still. You can’t go, because someone just took the elevator down. The stairwell is on the other side of the room, and it happens to be blocked.”
She followed his gaze to see he was right. Six or so people were naked and screwing each other like animals in heat. “Let me push the button to call the elevator up,” she said in a weak voice.
“It won’t do any good. The couple got in there to have privacy.”
“They’re having sex,” he said simply. “The lift is on emergency stop.”
“How do you know?”
Elliot nodded toward a red light that was lit above the elevator doors. “When that is lit, it means the car has been stopped. You’ll have to wait until it turns green. Until then, you’re stuck here.”
She tried to push away from him again, but he was far too strong. She searched the room for another source of escape, but there was none.
“I’m going to find you a seat,” he said.
She shook her head. “I don’t want to sit down on anything in this room.”
“You don’t have a choice. I’m sitting down. If you don’t come with me, you’ll be left standing here by yourself.”
Thandie’s eyes went wide with outrage.
“And at your own risk, I might add.”
“At my own risk!”
Swiftly, Elliot placed his finger over her mouth to stop her from speaking any louder. He lowered his head to speak without being overheard. “The members that have access to the Tower pay good money for privacy and discretion. I can’t have you making them nervous while they are enjoying themselves. Understand?”
She wanted to fight him tooth and nail, but he had a fierce frown on his face. Without another word, he took hold of her upper arm and led her to a long settee. The sight of a man’s face buried between a woman’s open legs at the other end of the chaise made her pale. She was seconds away from running and beating on the elevator doors when Elliot took his seat and pulled her down beside him. He placed his arm behind her and drew her into his side. Their seat gave them a voyeur’s view of the room. Thandie lowered her head, not wanting to make direct eye contact with anyone. Elliot, on the other hand, seemed to be comfortable with the setting. He sat back and watched her literally die with embarrassment, an arrogant smirk on his handsome face.