Author’s note: Yes, kinda short. But good.
Dorian didn’t look back to see if she was following them.
Chon mentally kicked herself for standing there for a moment like a dunce. Mounting the stairs, she thought she was going to have a stroke because her heart was beating so fast in excitement. By the time she reached the second level, she could barely see straight, so she had taken little notice as to where the hostess was leading them.
Instead of going toward the booths which overlooked the restaurant, the hostess made a sharp left down a long candlelit hallway, to the end where everyone stopped at a blue door.
“Your server will be with you in a moment, and your room has been set up to your specifications, Mr. Zane.” The hostess punched in a door code and then stepped back as Dorian stepped forward and swiped the gold key across the strip behind the keypad.
The locked clicked and the door slowly opened as if inviting them in with just a small squeak.
Chon gripped her finger tempted to stuff more than the tip in her mouth and chew it off.
The hostess walked away since and Dorian only leaned against the doorway waiting for Chon to enter first.
Warily she looked at him, “Aren’t private suites expensive?”
“You know my bank account too?” he questioned.
Even though she had told herself she wasn’t going to let his behavior or anything he said ruin her night, she had to throw caution to the wind knowing the price of a private suite like this had to be running by the thousands an hour. One just didn’t come by a private dinner booth in the most exclusive place to eat in Detroit just on a whim.
Folding her arms over her chest, she responded, “I know you couldn’t just afford this room.”
“Sometimes I have friends who can and don’t use it every night. Now are you going in or should I have them arrange dinner out here in the hallway?”
“Are you part of a secret club?” she questioned.
He raised a brow of curiosity. “Secret club?”
She didn’t want to come out right and say a sex club or even say kinky club, but looking at this room, she had to wonder, and her apprehension was stabbing her gut.
“If I answer this, would you promise not to tell anyone what happened once you step in this room?” he asked.
She only shrugged thinking that was easy enough to answer. Her client’s private lives were just as secret as their projects they worked on and she was used to keeping secrets. “I promise.”
“I have a network of friends who have particular tastes, and they love their privacy. Their tastes range from normal to abnormal, but I don’t judge. Now can we eat, I am famished.” His eyes flickered in amusement.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed away her apprehension. Her curiosity about Dorian Zane was taking over and maybe if she didn’t let his ability to grate on her nerves and just go with the flow, she could enjoy a dinner she had always dreamed of eating.
Chon stepped through the door and looked around the room with a dining table for four in the middle, but it was set up for just two.
The room was decked in dark royal blues and gold accents, along with a large couch against the wall, a smaller table and a very comfortable armless chair on the other side of the room against the other wall.
There were candle lights on the wall, but full lighting throughout the area.
He closed the door once he entered, while she took a seat at the table.
“Could you please sit in the other chair?” he questioned.
The other chair would position her back to the door, but she didn’t refuse his request.
When he sat, he leaned back and looked at her. As usual, his eyes lingered at her midsection before returning to her face.
“You’ll be able to eat right?” he questioned.
“Yes,” she answered. “I have no problems eating.”
“But will you keep it down is the question.”
Wanting to close down immediately, she almost put her finger in her mouth. Her stomach was starting to clench up again. “You make everyone feel uncomfortable around you?”
“Yes, I do, but for you, I’m finding it an incredible challenge.” He reached under the table and took her hand.
She didn’t resist his touch as he grasped her entire hand in his. His palms were soft to touch but exuded so much strength. His grip was firm, but not forceful.
“Your fingers are a clear telltale sign,” he indicated. “I noticed a lot of women in college doing this; Not being able to cope with stress, life, men.” He smirked.
“You don’t understand me-”
He cut her off. “Austin looks like a person that would drive any woman to dissatisfaction. And please don’t lie. You don’t have to hide from the fact you still fool around with your ex.”
Chon snatched her hand away. “How did you-”
Again he cut her off. “You aren’t the only one who gets a little loose when a few drinks are poured into them.”
She almost screamed, but a waiter came in the room with a white wine bottle.
“I’m not thirsty,” she said.
“Only half a glass,” he ordered the waiter. “I want her as sober as possible.”
“What did Austin tell you about me?” she asked after the waiter left.
Dorian Zane smirked and changed the subject. “So do you plan on staying longer, Ms. Tolbert?”
“Answer the question about Austin!” she demanded.
“Oh, now you’re ordering me?” He sounded very amused. “Will it make a difference on whether you decide to stay until the project over?”
She leaned forward. “Do you want me to stay?”
Dorian leaned back further and this time shifted uncomfortably.
The waiter delivered salads with sweet almonds, spinach, cranberries and provolone cheese. The dressing was a house oil mixed with mint, chive, and basil, plus something else that brought out a tanginess. She wanted to dive right in, but she needed to hear his answer first.
“Yes,” he admitted reluctantly. “Despite my reluctance to admit it to anyone else, your services are necessary.”
“That’s a compliment?” she rubbed it in.
“Not really, just an observation.”
Rolling her eyes heavenwards, Chon smiled knowing it had been a stretch to get him to admit he was granting her a compliment.
The salad was delicious just as she had imagined.
Dorian ate as well, and it was almost pleasant and relaxing to just sit in his presence without words coming between them.
He wiped his mouth and said, “Austin was brown nosing my ass from the day I came to the company. Somehow he found out I’d be eventually given this large account after I proved I could draw clients. I think the cocky ass thought just because he fucked the vice president’s wife he would get a good recommendation to take on this project.” He drunk his full glass of wine.
She only sipped a little of hers and then some water the waiter had also left. Determined to be sober, she wanted to remember this moment.
“How did I come up in any conversation with you and he, Mr. Zane?”
He frowned a moment and then said, “Can we just refer to each other by first names in this room?”
She shrugged again giving in to his request. “Fine. Why would you and Austin just start talking about me, Dorian?”
“He followed me out to Cliff Bells one night, where I was meeting some friends. By his third beer, he joined our discussion of women who would do anything for us. I was intrigued and surprised he had a woman who fit in this category. Do you know he has a picture of you in a secret fold behind his credit card?” He paused narrowing his eyes. “And when he showed us your picture, I was apparently jealous.”
She frowned this time confused, but said nothing.
“He told us all about prom when he got his. His selfishness sickened and intrigued me. You looked and seemed smart but how could you be so gullible.”
Chon still didn’t answer and let him continue talking.
“Austin said how pliable you were with alcohol and how you kept coming back. A fact of which I could not understand and still don’t.”
Pushing her plate away, she was starting to feel sick to her stomach.
The waiter returned to gather the dishes and serve the main meal – pineapple chicken with basil sauce and fresh oranges, creating a sweet sauce and citrus taste that seem to vibrate her nose hairs and inflame her taste buds.
The pineapples were laid over the chicken like pencils with long green beans wrapped with strings of purple cabbage, making a very colorful plate. Fresh baked buttered bread in a basket accompanied the meal, and Chon bet the food would deliciously melt in her mouth.
If she had lost her appetite, this dinner had found it.
Dorian continued to speak when the waiter left.
“The curiosity of knowing a creature like you existed, along with a need to understand you, drove me to create a very unfriendly environment until I knew he would get you here to the company. I manipulated him like a puppet, enticing him with the possibility of working together and always whining about how my life was completely disorganized. I mean I was working with imbeciles who couldn’t do a damn for me, but I could have figured it out soon enough. His mistress was at wit’s end as to what to do with me.” He smirked proudly of the chaos he must’ve caused and probably why no one wanted to work with him.
Chon set her fork down at what he was revealing to her. “Are you saying Austin is cheating on Tracy with other women in the office other than me?”
He decided he was starving and she had to wait until he took his time chewing his food. “Details will cost you, Chon.”
He said her name correctly; More than just correctly, but with an indelible accent that seemed to catch her breath. Ten times better than Austin, Dorian Zane said her name as if she was a drug he had to have. She sipped her wine some more because her mouth had suddenly gone dry, but she was careful not to take too much.
He leaned back not even explaining himself, but the realization of what she had to pay last time made her eyes drift down to his pocket where she knew her garment was tucked.
Could she pay the price this time? What else could he want?
“Cost me what?” she demanded, needing him to say what he wanted exactly.
“A simple game,” he said, shrugging as if it were not a big deal.
“Truth or dare and you have to play fair. Go all the way or nothing at all.”
This man was insane, she thought. “I deserve answers, Dorian. I deserve the truth.”
“Then go to Austin to get it if you don’t wish to deal with me. I’ll give you information about things that concern you, but anyone else you’ll have to play the game.”
“Does that include giving information about you as well?” she asked suspiciously. “Answering all my questions thoroughly and honestly?”
“Of course, I have nothing to hide.”
To find out why this man was torturing her would mean she could at least understand him enough for him not to bother her anymore. Just to make sure she had control of the game, she added a stipulation. “We get to pick out the truth or dare for the other person, and you have to answer or do the dare.”
“I will agree to your terms,” he said very quickly.
“Fine, Mr. Zane, I’ll play your silly game.”
“Three rules I must put on the table, though,” he said. “One; this is a personal game. What goes on here stays here meaning this has nothing to do with business. All questions also have to have nothing to do with business or the project.”
“And the third?” she asked.
“All dares must be able to be performed inside this room tonight and no refusal.”
She didn’t understand what kind of dares she could think of for him.
“Who’s first?” she asked.
He held up a finger to his mouth signaling her to be quiet as the door opened with the waiter. “We’ll hold off on dessert until I request,” he said to the servant with a tip.
The waiter nodded. “Would you like me to bring more wine?”
Dorian snorted and cut Chon a mischievous look. “No, just leave the water pitcher on that other table,” he said and gave Chon a wink.
She was grateful about that request.
Maybe Dorian Zane wasn’t that bad.
Maybe with this silly game, she could find out what was truly behind his insane drive to push people over the edge.
When the cold pitcher was delivered, Dorian said to her, “One more thing, no matter what comes about in this game, you have to promise to take this job as my assistant until this project is finished.”
He extended his hand to shake.
She hesitated. Another five months? With Dorian Zane?
“Are you planning something awful for me as your assistant?”
Dorian’s lips moved into a genuine smile. The kind that made her heart beat a little faster and show how truly handsome he was.
“Let’s play, Dorian Zane. Let’s play your game,” she said, shaking his hand and hoping she wasn’t making a deal with the devil.
All rights reserved. 2016(c)Sylva Hubbard