The Secrets We Keep

“April Carrington! I know your ass better not be giving some ninja head!”

The black Valentino’s didn’t move.  I approached the stall with hell in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe that my Caucasian compadre was disrupting a perfect evening!  First, her ass was drunk!  Second, she was blabbing intimate details about my boo!  Now she was in the ladies room getting it on with God knows who!  I pushed the stall door as if I were an overprotective mother! To my surprise, the door only opened a quarter of the way before closing back in my face!

“Girl if you want a place to stay after tonight, you better open this door!”

There was some mumbling before the truth finally came to life.  I could hear April giving back her lunch and whatever else she had eaten.  I opened the door again slowly to see my girl hovered over her porcelain trough!

“Damn girl! How long have you been in here?”

“I . . . . I . . . don’t know.  I shouldn’t have had that last shot . . .”

“Shot?  What the hell happened to the coffee I told you to order?”

“Please Chelsea . . . . don’t preach.  I just wanna go home . . .”

I could see that April had overdone it.  The selfie junkie no longer cared about how cute she was.  Her hazel eyes were now puffy and red.  Her face looked as if she had just awaken from a coma.  Her hair was fighting to get in line.  It seemed that she missed the toilet during one of her attempts, which explained the puddles of champagne and shrimp on the floor.  I reached over and flushed the commode and went back out to find help. Imagine my surprise when I found Eric right outside the door!

“Mr. Houston!  I’m so glad to see you.  I need your help!”

“What’s the matter Ms. Heaton?”

“You remember my friend April?”

“Yes . . .”

“Well it seems that she may have had a little too much to drink tonight.  Can you or one of your staff find our driver so she can go home?”

Mr. Houston glared at me for a few moments before calling over assistance.

“Ms. Nadine will take your friend to my office and get her cleaned up.  She can recover there until I can secure someone to drive you both home”

“Drive us both home?  No, no, no Mr. Houston!  Just April.  I’ll ride home with James. Besides, can’t you just get our original chauffeur to take her back?”

Mr. Houston pretended to be occupied with his cell phone instead of responding.  I continued to send invisible heat rays to his body until he acknowledged me.  

“Ms. Heaton, it’s not my place to answer about your driver.  It would be best if you spoke to Mr. Montgomery regarding the matter.  Now, you’re more than welcome to return to your seat or you can go into my office with your friend and relax there”

The way Eric answered my question may me nervous.  There was no way I was going to let April be by herself at this juncture!  I nodded in agreement and went back into the bathroom to help the attendant scoop April off the ground.  Even though April was smaller than me, she was still a handful!  I attempted to get on the other side of her but Nadine waved me off.

“I got her.  Please open the door”

I did as instructed and followed my melanin warrior princess to the service elevator hidden behind the stairs.  We traveled for what seemed to be several floors before we stopped.  Nadine led the way to Mr. Houston’s office.  However as we walked through the door, the space was more like a studio apartment than an office!  The room had the same color scheme as the club with sofas and chairs to sit in upon entry.  It even came equipped with a kitchen and bathroom!  The office was highlighted by a colossal flat screen that sat on the wall in the middle of the room. 

“Damn, this is truly how the other half lives huh?”

Ms. Nadine helped April to the bathroom as I looked for some coffee to brew.  I found Eric’s Keurig and began brewing a cup for my drunken friend.  Within minutes, the attendant had helped April out of her dress and into a black sweat suit.  Nadine helped my companion to one of the sofas.  After, she handed me April’s things in a plastic bag. The silent assistant didn’t say a word the entire time she was with us.  I found that quite odd for a woman . . . .

“Nadine, I don’t know you but thank you for helping me with my girlfriend tonight.  Is there a tip I can give you?”

“No ma’am”

She said it as if we were back on the plantation.  She refused to look me in the eyes as she attempted to make her way out of the office.

“Are you sure there is nothing I can do to repay your kindness?  I mean any other staff person would have probably given me grief!  April’s not the smallest chick in the world! At least let me sing your praises to Mr. Houston for the work you’ve done?”

“No thank you ma’am”

“How about if I sung your praises to Mr. James Montgomery instead?  That should get you a raise surely!”

Nadine stared dead into my eyes as if I had blasphemed!  She uttered not a word as she made her exit.  I couldn’t help but wonder why she refused to say more than four words to me?  Was she that terrified of Eric and James?  James wasn’t Nino Brown!  He was more like that those Wall Street types that manipulated people in order to get money . . . . at least that what he led me to believe. 

I placed the coffee on the table as I made myself comfortable as well.  There was no telling how long the night would last.  I sat back and turned the video box on to Food Network.  I knew there would be a Chopped special on to take my mind off tonight’s debacle.  Nothing like trying to figure out what to make out of Gouda, five day old doughnuts, and processed beef patties for an appetizer.  As the contestants made magic with their baskets, I began to imagine myself in James’s bed . . . . . . .

“Ms. Heaton?  Ms. Heaton?  It’s time to go!”

Mr. Houston was calling my name as he literally threw April over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes!  

“Why are you saying we?  I’m going home with James!  Where is he anyway?  How long have I been out?”

“It’s almost two in the morning.  I’m sorry for the abruptness but Mr. Montgomery wants me to drive you ladies home now!”

“Why now?  Where is he?”

Mr. Houston gave me that slave stare again.  

“I will call Mr. Montgomery and relay your message.  I’m going to take Ms. Carrington back home now.  I need your location”

I recited my address for the impromptu chauffeur.  I didn’t ask how he was going to remember seeing that he didn’t write anything down.  At this moment, that was the least of my worries.  For a night that was supposed to be a coming out party of sorts for me and James, it turned into me being locked away in the dungeon!  I couldn’t believe that my love had been gone the entire time!  For a man who said that he appreciated me in all my thickness, he had a weird way of showing it!  He didn’t want me to ride to the event with him.  He didn’t ask to take me home.  He didn’t even spend twenty minutes with me at the table before he disappeared!  

I stewed in my anger a little more before Mr. Abracadabra came through the door.  My once polished gentleman looked as if he had been working in the kitchen.  His forehead was sweaty.  His pants were soaked through.  His jacket was absent.  He had his sleeves rolled up with no sign of his fasteners.

“James!!!  Where have you been babe?”

There was no sign of happiness on James’ face.  I had never seen him look so . . . . . callous before.  He made no sound as he entered into the room and headed toward the back.  The way that he moved without speaking frightened me.  For the first time, I was scared to be in the same room with James.  He walked into the bedroom but didn’t say why.  Suddenly, the dark knight began to speak.

“Why didn’t you just go home with Eric?”

“Because I wanted to go home with you!  We haven’t spent anytime together tonight!  You’ve been gone since Ms. Amir came in the club.  Why is that?”

“Do you really wanna know?”

“Yes I do”

James emerged from the room with nothing on but a wife beater and his soggy slacks.  I was mesmerized by his chisel frame but then I noticed something else he had on shirt; several splatters of blood!

“Come with me.  You were going to have to find out sooner or later”

I followed James into the walk-in bedroom closet.  To my amazement, the closet gave way to another room that actually looked like an office!  James went into the bathroom as I began looking at the video screens that were mounted all over the wall.  Each screen was a live feed from what was going on in and around the club.  From several views of the bar to a panoramic view of the VIP section, I could see everything!  There was even a live feed in the bathrooms!  

“So that’s why he was right outside the door!” 

I continued to look around the office and I saw another weapon sitting beside the keyboard. I couldn’t believe that someone would leave a roscoe out there like that!  I was fascinated but I dared not touch!  From the darkness of the adjoining room, James appeared dressed in a beige button down and matching slacks.  He was busy putting the stones in his shirt when he caught me admiring the steel.

“Oh . . . I see you found my little friend”

“This belongs to you James?”

“Yes it does.  Why do you ask?”

“Why would you leave a gun out in plain sight like that?  Anybody could just walk in here and start blasting!”

James laughed at me, but I needed some answers.

“What’s so damn funny James?”

“Chelsea, nobody knows that this room exist.  And it will stay that way . . . .”

“Why are you looking at me as if I’m going to tell somebody?”

“Because you’ve already told too much to your gossiping friend!”

“I just told her about how you treat me baby.  Is there any harm in that?”

“You’ve told her more than that.  She commented that I could get her a job, just like I did you.  Does that ring a bell?  Or how about the comment where she said I run Atlanta?  You remember that?”

He had me dead to rights.  I couldn’t say a word.  I had indeed told all my business to the one person that I shouldn’t have.

“James . . . . I’m sor . . .”

“Because of your inability to keep secrets, I had to deal with an unexpected issue.  You see, your driver tonight was an undercover cop trying to build a case for the DA.  Lucky for me, his supervisor is on my payroll. Don’t worry though, I handled him.  If April didn’t mean so much to you and your girls, she would have been handled too!”

I couldn’t breathe!  My head started spinning as though I was about to faint! I held on to the desk to give me the balance that I needed before I asked my next question.

“So . . . . . . . . did you kill him?”

James didn’t speak a word.  He only looked at me and smiled.

“But I thought you didn’t get your hands dirty like that!  You told me that you weren’t a drug dealer!”

“I’m not a drug dealer”

“But you kill people?”

James still did not give me an answer.

“James I need to know!  How are we going to be a couple if you don’t tell me the truth?”

“Did you just ask me how we were going to be a couple?  Huh?”

James came over to me, grabbed my neck, and put me up against the wall!  I could feel my feet rising off the floor ever so slightly.  I never realized how much strength James had until that very moment!  The coldness in his eyes told me that this was not a prelude to sex.  The grip that he had was getting tighter by the moment.

“When you learn to keep your mouth closed, then we can talk about being a couple!  I tell you my secrets and in less than 24 hours you’re putting all my business in the streets!  I’ve come too far to have everything I’ve built destroyed!”

Tears started rolling down my face.  I wanted to get away but my body was limp.  I was helpless as James held my life in his hand.  I did the only thing that I could do in between my tears.

“I’m . . . sorry . . .”

Just like that James came back to himself and released me from his grasp.  He stared at me as he put on his coat.

“You can never tell anyone about tonight or anything else that I do!”

I gathered myself as he grabbed his pistol and keys.

“So you would kill me too James?”

“I rather not answer that.  It’s been a long night . . . . .”

 

Written by The Wednesday Gentleman

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