It was no surprise that my no good deeds would end me up into trouble once again. Here I was doing something I always did that I knew would end me up in a place I knew I would regret being in. They were walking me through the manicured gardens with my hands tied behind my back and two guards at either of my sides. The stones of the pathway crunched under my trusty old, dirty converse sneakers and I sort of loved the sound. It was the sound of Déjà vu.
It was a long walk up to the estate and the square cut evergreen bushes trailing along the driveway we were walking on stood shoulder high. They hid every part of his riches just until you reached that tip of the hill. Then it was like the Heaven’s opened up and a palace just fell from the sky. This place was so beautiful it was sickening and it was no wonder how he got the money to pay for a place like this because I was damn sure he didn’t have to lift a finger to work a day in his life. He was a mobster or whatever you called them.
Anyway, I was minding my own business eyeing out these incredible heels when I was kindly asked to step inside a vehicle by the men in black. No really, the men in black! I giggled to myself earning a glare from the devils themselves. When I politely declined and told them to shove it, they took me by force and shoved me in a car. I don’t think they were ever taught any manners because the last time I checked, I was a girl. Maybe not a respectable one, but a girl nonetheless.
I have no idea where I am though because they put a black material bag over my head and kept me blinded the whole time. I tried peeking through the bag but I just couldn’t see anything. Nor could I hear anything, only the hum of the cars engine. So now here I am at his estate, and I say estate because it had a house that was like a palace that was placed on several hectares of land. It was genuinely exquisite and serenely peaceful.
The guy holding my arms pushed me roughly as I had stopped walking. I was gawking so much at his palace of a house. “Okay okay, I’m walking, no need to be so pushy” I breathed out irritably stumbling forward. So rude! We walked up the steps that led up towards the double front glass and wooden doors. I felt tiny as I stood on the welcome mat of the house. One of the guards opened the door and once again I was being pushed roughly. I stumbled through the doorway and tried to stable myself as my hands were tied behind my back. I let out a long sigh, this guy was rich but his guards were really rude.
He grabbed my hands again and started shoving me towards the next room. The house was decadent, extravagant even. The rooms were excessively decorated, the ceiling was high and it gave the whole house a feeling of grandiose. There were so many shiny things and my eyes were darting all over the entrance room. My hands were actually itching trying to get out of these restraints to get to at least one of these items. I’m sure I could make a small fortune walking out of here with one or two of these shiny ornaments.
The guard holding my hands together stopped me in the living room and I was now standing directly in front of Scott. The one man I made sure to steer clear from because I knew he was one person you didn’t want to do business with, and I made the unfortunate decision of doing business with him once. The guy behind me freed my hands and I brought them in front of me rubbing where the restraints had cut into my skin.
“Hello Arabella” Scott greeted, his face smug and his greeting sounding more like a private joke. I narrowed my eyes at him. He sat there in all is pride and glory. This rich and arrogant man, and yet he looked so calm and so threatening. He kept his eyes on me and I could see the coldness in them. It sent a shiver of fear down my spine.
His brown hair neatly combed to one side, his dark brown piercing eyes, those lips were pressed into a hard line and yet when his eyes landed on me his mouth formed into a subtle smug grin. His eyebrow was cocked up and his eyes assessed me. He was every bit the man I imagined him to be. His off white suit was perfectly straight, not one crease, his deep blue shirt burning through. He sat there, one leg over the other as he waited for me to respond.
“Scott” I sneered his name.
“I need you to get something for me. A black box, it was stolen from me and I want it back” he said simply as if I was even listening to his offer. “What makes you think that I will do anything for you?” I asked bitterly, laughing humorlessly at him. I looked around the room noticing the light grey shades on the walls, the molding that ran along the walls in the middle, the big crystal chandelier, the paintings, the fireplace in the center of the room. I mean it was so huge you could walk right into it.
The furniture in the room complimented everything so well and all the while I stared at this room I wished that I could live in a home like this, maybe smaller- what I mean is just a small beach house with my mom. Just the two of us. It was all I ever wanted. “Arabella” I heard Scott call my name. I looked back at him coming out of my trance. I had missed what he had said.
I gave him a pointed look to repeat what he said. “You will do what I ask you to do because you know the consequences if you refuse” he stated in a threatening tone. “What do you need?” I asked gritting my teeth together. “A black box. My sister has it in her apartment. She stole it from me when my father passed on. He had left it to me in his will. She didn’t like that fact and stole it from me. I want it back” he said irritated.
I stood there staring at him. I couldn’t really refuse him and I didn’t have the option of just walking out of here. So I did what I had to do. “So you can get it?” he asked me. I stood there staring at Scott, the wealthiest man I knew as well as the most dangerous, letting a smirk find its way onto my face before answering him.
I was surrounded by his guards as I stood here in his living room, while he sat on his couch staring up at me eating his grapes arrogantly. I could feel the nervousness inside me but I hoped it wasn’t showing. I just held my smirk and kept my body as strong as I possibly could, I couldn’t break down here.
I wondered for a quick second, now out of all moments this thought coming back to me, if I could manage to slip something out of here without him noticing. I probably would be able to because he had so much stuff that he wouldn’t notice if one little ornament went missing. Would he?
I walked up slowly looking at each of these guards and bent down when I reached the coffee table, picking up a vine of grapes. At the same time, while I held Scott’s intense gaze and the eyes of the other guards, I slipped the silver mermaid ornament off the coffee table into the sleeve of my sweater. No one noticed anything and I didn’t let anything show on my face as I stood up straight again as if nothing had happened.
I watched as each guard took a nervous step forward anticipating my next move. I let out a light laugh at them before luxuriously popping a grape into my mouth. I chewed on the grape looking him in the eyes. He had a smug look on his face and he watched my every move in irritation as I ate HIS grapes. Great, he hadn’t noticed I had taken the mermaid. I slipped the mermaid into my back pocket. “So what will it be Miss Taylor?” he pressed, the irritation clear in his voice. I could see he was not one to be kept waiting.
“I can do it, yes” I said leisurely leaning forward in all my arrogance pushing a grape into his mouth. I watched as bewilderment took his features before all at once he nodded his head and a guard had my arms in a firm grip behind my back and was pulling me away causing me to drop the grapes in my hand.
“But, it comes at a price” I said urgently before they took me away. He eyed me speculatively before standing up and straightening out his expensive suit. Oh how I absolutely hate rich men. They just think they own everything. But in this case, I needed the money and he did really own a lot. “How much?” he asked not affected. “A hundred thousand” I said without blinking an eye. He tilted his head to the side and walked over to where I was being held with an amused expression.
He stood directly in front of me, so close that I felt his hot breath fan over my face. He took my chin in his firm grasp and made me look at him. “Miss Taylor, if you fail to get me what I need in the time I have given you, I know the one place to go and take from you what I desire. I will kill her, make no mistake” he threatened releasing my chin nodding at the guard and leaving the room.
I watched him leave as the guard next to me put a black material bag over my head. Great, I was starring in my own action movie. I was now going to be transported to who knows where and released to do what I needed to do. I tried to take a step in any direction but they had another intention. They stopped me and hit me in the back of the head with something hard. As everything faded to darkness, more than it already was, I passed into unconsciousness all I could think was Now you’ve done it.
I awoke to someone talking in the background and cars driving somewhere in the distance. I was definitely uncomfortable because I could feel something poking me in my side. My head was on something hard and wherever I was it stank like crap. Oh and yeah my head hurt like hell from those damn morons.
I opened my eyes and squinted them to the light blinding me from above. If this was heaven it really did suck. My eyes adjusted and I could see a bright clear sky above me with white clouds with a wall directly next to me on my left and a building on the right. I was in an alley. How did I always end up in an alley?
I looked down at where I was lying and I was lying in a pile of trash. How classy, they dumped me in a pile of trash cans! Oh when I deliver the item, I will sure as hell let them have it for doing this to me. I sat up and climbed up out of the rubbish. I could feel something slightly heavy hanging in my back pocket. I remembered the mermaid. I took it out and looked at it. I couldn’t actually believe I got out with this. The silver shimmered in the sunlight off her sleek body, down to her tail.
I walked to the end of the alley and onto the pavement into the street. That smell of trash was following me. I lifted my arm and smelt it. I hung my head back in irritation. I was the one that smelled like rubbish. A person walking passed looked at me and caught the smell, quickly lifting there hand over there nose running past me.
“What? You never been dumped in trash before?!” I screamed at her which only had her running faster. Yes, I was definitely pissed off. I needed a shower and I needed new clothes. But being a homeless person didn’t really accommodate for either of those situations. Lucky for me I knew someone here. I recognized the city I was in, knowing my aunt lived close by.
The city was bright outside as the sun shone down and it bustled with cars on the road. People were everywhere up and down in the streets in shops and restaurants buying things. I swore I would never go to family for help but right now I needed it and it was only for a place to stay while I got this job done.
An hour later I was standing in front of one of the most exclusive and fanciest buildings I had ever seen. She had really done well for herself I had to admit. For the briefest moment, I felt a sadness sweep over my heart as I realized the way things ended between the family. The reasons why I never saw Grace anymore and why I stayed away from family. In that same moment all the bad memories swept my mind like an infectious disease and re-established why I never saw family and crushed that sadness like an ant. I shook my head to clear it of all the unnecessary painful memories that did nothing for me.
The building had a grand arch entrance that was at least two storeys high. It had stone cladding and stood proud and tall. Right next to it was a large pool of water lined with palm trees. It reminded me of Miami and the hot sunny beaches with all the girls in bikinis. A fountain stood at the end where the arch began. The water cascaded down its stone body creating a splashing breaking the silence surrounding me.
I walked under it and was greeted by the entrance which was made of a glass wall. I walked inside into the fancy reception and the interior was just as exquisite. There was a section with tables and chairs for seating, and statues from different parts of the world. The glass entrance wall faced the mountainous views in the background.
I carried on to the receptionist trying not to get lost in the beauty of the hotel and tried extra hard to ignore the stares and comments that came my way. I walked up to the reception desk and rang the bell calling for the man’s attention. “Hi I am looking for Grace Taylor” I said. She knew I was coming as I had called her to let her know I needed a place to crash. “She is expecting me” I assured him as the man behind the counter stared at me like I was the trash I smelled like.
As soon as I had said her name, his face did change. Only slightly though. “Welcome to Paradise Found. She resides in the Presidential Suite” he said brusquely before dismissing me. I turned and made my way to the elevator. Stepping in I pressed her floor number and then waited for the doors to close. A sweet lullaby played as the lift made its way upward. The lighting was subtle, with beautiful fabric lining the lift wall. But what stood out like a sore thumb was the person reflected in the mirror. It was a far cry from the kind of person who should really live here.
It had been a long time since I had seen my own self in the mirror. Shirt brown from the dirt, jeans torn in every possible place. That didn’t matter. What stopped my breathing was the messy tangled hair, pale skin, dark eyes. I took a step forward to take a closer look touching the dark circles under my eyes just as the doors opened to an exquisitely beautiful foyer.
It had a table with a large vase of flowers and beautiful paintings on the walls. Just behind the table were the double doors that led to the suite. I walked toward the flowers taking one out and smelling it. Ahh the rich, how good it is to have everything, and not have to work as hard as the rest.
The doors opened and my aunt stood there watching me with pure delight. “Arabella! My child, it is so great to see you!” she hurried over to me and embraced me in a hug before ushering me into the apartment. “Oh my, what happened to you?” she said with pure shock and disgust. “No never mind, this will not do. You must go and get cleaned up, there are clean clothes waiting in your room for you. I will prepare something to eat in the meantime. We can talk when you are done” She said rushing her words not letting me get a say in.
She pushed me to my room showing me where everything was and to be honest, I actually felt a slight bit of happiness that I was going to see a shower for the first time in days and that I had clean clothes waiting for me. It sounds disgusting I know, but like I said homeless and stealing to survive is all I knew. I turned my head back taking one last glance at Grace before she left. She was the epitome of beauty. A far cry from the girl in the lift mirror.
As soon as the door to my bedroom closed I felt a sense of relief and anxiousness wash over me. I hadn’t seen this woman in so many years, not since before I got put into my first foster home. Now here I was with her in a home that cost more than I could even count. This place though was just not me, and when I finally found a home for my mother and me it would be simple. The kind with a white picket fence and a wrap around veranda. With white furniture, you know that real beachy feel.
Grace just reminded me so much of my mother. A mother I didn’t have right now. A family that I didn’t have. That I never had for most of my life. I shook my head. These thoughts were becoming too deep for me. It was all because of Grace, because she reminded me of mom. Just before heading to the shower, I set the silver mermaid on the shelf above my bed. I took one last look at it. Why a mermaid? I shrugged not really caring.
I climbed into the shower and took my time savoring the water. I literally showered for what felt like hours. I actually wondered when the water would run cold, but it didn’t. Finally deciding I was clean, I climbed out and headed into the room to get the clothes she had set out for me. A dress? This is what I was to where? It was strapless with a low back cut and it was pink and flowery. There was just no way I could wear this.
I looked through the cupboards for something- anything else. I found a pair of dark blue skinny jeans, I grabbed it and threw it on the bed. I found an off the shoulder over sized sweater and added that to the pile. To finish it off I sat on the ground looking at the endless shoes. I found a pair of flat studded ankle boots and grabbed those. I was done. I got dressed and headed out.
The smell hit me before I saw it and my stomach rumbled in appreciation. “The food smells amazing” I said walking into the modern kitchen. “I made your mom’s favorite, spaghetti bolognaise” she said proudly. My body tensed at her words and I immediately recoiled at her words. My expression became unreadable and I pushed all thoughts of my mother out of my mind.
I sat down at where she had set up a place mat for me with my cutlery. She placed a plate of food in front of me and it looked as good as it smelt. I twisted my fork in it, putting it down. I pushed the plate away getting up to go anywhere but here. I actually for once in my life don’t know what I was thinking. Why did I come here? I was always used to being in the streets and working that way. Why now did I need help.
“She loves you, you know” Grace told me surprising me. I stopped dead, my eyes guarded. My face hardened and I glared turning around to face her. “She loves me? If anyone knows that, it would be me. I hate the way you and everybody else just assumed that I didn’t know this after everything. I don’t even know why I came here. I don’t need yours or anyone elses help for that matter” I shouted at her. She clasped her chest, shock etched into eyes.
“I’m not hungry anymore” I simply stated carrying on towards the door. “Wait, we have a meeting with Mr Alvaro in half an hour. Please be ready to see him” she said sternly. “Who is Mr Alvaro?” I said dispassionately eyeing her suspiciously. “He is my employer. He is the reason why I, and now you, live here. I clean his house and do whatever he requires of me. And you will be helping me” she told me simply leaving no room for argument.
“I came here for help, I didn’t come here for work! I am not staying here to wipe some rich guys ass-” I argued raising my voice slightly but she stopped me dead in my tracks. “Yes you did come here for my help and I am giving it to you Arabella. Whether you like it or not you will work for him. He gave you this opportunity which is rare so take it. You need the money and you need to take responsibility of your life! I promised your mother I would help you, and this is me making good on that promise. Half an hour, Arabella” she warned.
With that I stormed out of the room. Who did she think she was? She didn’t run my life and she sure as hell wasn’t my mother. I had just come here to stay with her and I had just been with her for what, an hour or two after how many years? And she was already planning and running my life. No, I thought darkly staring at the mirror in front of me in my room. “I don’t have a mother” I spat at myself and I saw how my face went from normal to disgusted when I thought of her.
It was true though, I didn’t have a mother. Enough thinking about her for a lifetime I thought, so I pushed all thoughts of her to the back of my mind. I decided rather to explore my room. It was big and beautiful. This man must clearly be loaded if he could afford two suites in a high rise building and one was just for his maid.
I walked over to my window and saw the view that I had. It wasn’t the biggest window compared to the others and it wasn’t one of the best views compared to the others in the apartment. But to me it was my favorite. I grabbed a pillow and sat on the floor and stared out the window. I watched the cars driving up and down and the people walking to their destinations. They looked so tiny from up here. Like little ants.
I looked up and watched the sun finally setting over the mountains surrounding us. Its oranges and reds filling the sky, with a touch of pink in streaks stretching across the horizon. I could get lost in this view for hours. I looked across at all the restaurants and pools as their lights stood out against the nearing darkness. I could see a little café, and the people sitting at the tables enjoying themselves. People walking in and out of the building and going on to their respective destinations.
“Arabella” my aunt’s sweet voice filled the room and I looked up at her from the window. I looked at her, guarding all that was me. She smiled at me and lifted her hand up at me. “Come my dear, it is time for us to leave” she said. I took one last look at the setting sun before getting up and placing the pillow back on my bed and taking her hand.
His welcome foyer was far more welcoming than ours, and Grace had warned me that his apartment was in fact the penthouse of the building. It was far larger than ours as it covered two floors. She opened the door and allowed me to walk in first. As soon as I stepped inside my jaw literally dropped to the floor.
I was frozen to the spot and nothing would move me from the spot unless you probably held a gun to my head or offered me an Aero chocolate. Yup, then I would probably pay attention. I took one look around the room and couldn’t believe this is where I was working. Or that someone actually lived here.
It was beautiful- no beyond beautiful. I mean I didn’t have words to describe it. I felt excitement bubble up inside of me and I actually snapped out of my trance myself. I realized my jaw was still hanging on the ground when I closed it and started exploring. I noticed Grace making her way towards someone but I didn’t really care, all I saw was a piano and I wanted to touch it.
I stroked the lid softly closing my eyes as I felt the smooth wood under my fingertips. I moved closer to the ivories and let my fingers begin playing a soft melody. My head tilted upwards to see a long L-shaped sofa. Plush, soft and so inviting. My heart bubbled in excitement leaving the piano, kicking off my boots and doing the first thing you do on plush, soft sofas.
I leaped arms extended and landed on the sofa with bounce. It was all I imagined. I rubbed my face deep into the woolly material hugging the pillows to my chest. I giggled in excitement. I got to my knees wandering…if it was soft, was it bouncy? I bounced up and down on my knees as if I was on a jumping castle. It was perfect!
I got to my feet and jumped on the sofa laughing in excitement as my inner child came out. I hadn’t even jumped for two seconds when someone grabbed my wrist pulling me down from my wistful happiness and turned me around abruptly. He glared at me with deep blue eyes intent on their answer and a face as handsome as a god. His dark brown hair fell to the side of his face over his forehead. He hadn’t shaven but it looked so damn sexy. I just wanted to touch his face.
And what seemed even more ridiculous was the fact that my heart was racing and I was nervous as hell. Right now, his looks weren’t going to get him off the hook because he was hurting me, and he was touching me.
I hated to be touched.