After three hours of driving, full speed, I finally reached London. The place I was looking for was a forty story building. An impenetrable modern fortress that belonged to the family I had left. The Wayne business centre wasn't in the middle of the city but in the outskirt, it was ultra protected and only people who worked there could get in. Needless to say that the last time my father saw me, I was a sixteen year old and I didn't have pink hair. I was hoping the guards at the front gate would believe me.
As I approached, I had to pass through three ID checks before I could talk to someone. My father was getting more and more security. That was no surprise when you're the biggest gun dealer in London. I had fled that life years ago, the crime industry, the instability. I needed a stimulating environment, something fit for my character. And ended up at the Club, how ironic.
The girl that greeted me wasn't one I recognized. She was sitting at her desk, a blonde, sculptural, manicured secretary, and gave me the "ew, who the hell are you" look. I wondered if she knew who she was truly working for. Because for the appearances, my father was a talented businessman, and thanks to very smart associates, he became a drug lord with a secret identity. Well, secret to the outside world.
"Identification Card, please."
I handed it to her. One look at my name, she gasped.
"Wayne, Grace?! The "Grace" Mr Wayne is always talking about?"
"Probably yes. Can I see him? Or maybe my sister?"
"Right away, of course."
"She dialled the number on her fancy desk telephone, more like plane control board, and asked for my father. Harold Wayne.
"I'm sorry, he's out of town today, he'll be back tomorrow. But Ms Emma is free to see you. Take the elevator on your right and go for the thirty-third floor."
"Alright thank you."
The way up to my sister almost made me puke, being pulled up in the air at such speed was confusing for my stomach that didn't know if it should follow the rest of my body on the 33rd floor or stay in the lobby.
The doors opened to another lobby, smaller, decorated in the same clear marble. Quickly, I undid my messy hair bun to make a more elegant high ponytail that fell down the middle of my back. My sister hasn't seen me in seven years. She was 22 when I left.
But she hadn't changed a bit.
"GRACIE! Oh my god, I couldn't believe Hannah when she said there was a Grace Wayne down the hall!"
"Hey Em." I hugged her tight. She was the one I missed the most. We had the same big navy eyes and pale skin ornated with a thousand freckles everywhere. She looked like a grown woman, even if she was a little smaller than me.
"Never leave again, okay! God, I've missed you."
"I promise I'll keep in touch from now on. Really." She gave me a suspicious look. "Come on. You know why I wanted to get away from here."
"I do, you Smart Ass. So, did you get in?" My sister was the only one – aside from Annie and James – to know I wanted to join Riddle.
From what I looked like, she guessed the answer to her question. She took me in her over tattooed arms.
"Oh, man, I'm sorry, Gracie."
"That's weird you know. Cause the two friends I taught actually got in."
"Really weird indeed. Well, anyway, what are you doing here? Are you in trouble?!"
"Kinda. Let's go somewhere I can sit and tell you everything."
She took me to her office where I could crash on the oversized comfy couch. She let me tell her everything without interrupting. She sat on her desk, as she used to do when she was younger. Her hair was shorter, a brunette pixie cut that made her eyes stand out. She was still pretty fit and athletic. Just like me. Our father taught us to use weapons and hand to hand combat so that we could defend ourselves if needed. We were the badass heiresses of the most wanted man in London.
"You only shot him in the knees? I'd have killed that mofo."
"I was going to, but you know, the little voice said something and I couldn't do it anymore."
"Ah, right, your little voice." When I was younger, I referred to my instincts as "the Little Voice", it was such a powerful feeling that it felt independent of me. "Gracie, one day, you'll have to act against your instincts to survive. Don't let it become a weakness."
"Don't worry. I'll be fine." I told her, smiling. Seeing my sister after all this time made me the happiest I had been in ages.
"Well, you're free to stay at my place, mi casa es tu casa. Which is the 39th floor. Dad lives on the 40th. He is going to freak out when he sees you. Mostly because of that pink hair, you're rocking it, by the way."
"Thanks, Em. You look good as well. Since when do you cover yourself with tattoos?"
She burst into laughter and started to tell me about her life since I left. How she met many guys but none could handle her being an independent badass, and how she decided to get tattoos to look even more badass.
"Don't ever underestimate yourself because of a dude. They think that, because of that thing between their legs, they can rule us over. Hell no."
My turn to laugh like a maniac. Emma was a real jackass and also the most amazing person I've ever met.
"So, Gracie, the important question now: are you seeing someone?" She asked me with a wicked look.
That question saddened me. I had been dating a few guys over the years, but nothing serious. I was so focused on getting into Riddle that there was no room left in my life for a significant other.
"Nope, you won't be an auntie anytime soon."
She sighed, dramatically. "Father is desperate to get a male heir. He thinks I'm not fit to take the business when he retires."
"Bullshit, you'll do a hundred times better than him."
Someone knocked at the door. I sat more elegantly on the couch, readjusting my ponytail. As much as I didn't care about my father, I respected my sister and didn't want to shame her.
"Ms Wayne, your appointment is here."
A dark-haired male entered. He looked older than me, yet younger than Emma. He was quite tall and fit as well, his wavy hair was falling before his forehead, giving him a mysterious aura, making his square jaw stand out. He was wearing a simple white shirt and suit trousers. But what really attracted my attention weren't his emerald eyes either, it was the scar. A straight paler line that went from the right corner of his mouth down to his chin.
Despite that scar, he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen to that day. Somehow, he looked familiar to me, a weird feeling I was used to, due to my own scar at the back of my head. I shook my head slightly and ignored that feeling, unsure of what to say or where to look.
"Sure, let him know I'll be here in a minute." My sister turned to me. "Nick, meet my little sister, Grace Katherine."
"Don't call me that," I growled. Katherine was our mother's name.
"Pleasure to meet you, miss Wayne."
"Call me Grace, plea-" My stomach thought it was the perfect timing to growl. I turned as pink as my hair at that moment. He suppressed a laugh.
"Gracie, when was the last time you had a proper meal?!" My sister was horrified.
"Almost 24 hours ago..." I confessed, shameful.
"You idiot, you have to eat to function, Smart Ass. Nick, please, take her to the cafeteria. Make sure she gets a proper meal."
"Of course. After you, Grace."
He followed me to the elevator and when I turned around to wave my sister goodbye, she gave me a kinky look and two thumbs up. I rolled my eyes. She wanted me to find someone so bad because she knew, deep down, I felt lonely.
"Is everything okay?" he looked almost as awkward as I felt. It was time to break the ice.
"Yes, don't worry, sister drama." I giggled.
"I wish I could understand, I'd love to have siblings."
"It's no picnic every day. Actually it has been seven years since the last time we saw."
"Oh, that's why. I heard a lot about you. From your sister and your father. Even though I only work for Ms Wayne, I'm her first assistant. We rarely see the big boss."
"I hope you didn't hear any embarrassing stories."
"Not at all." He smiled a full white teeth smile. Oh god, he's hot.
Something about him was deep and mysterious and I could tell right away that he had suffered a great deal. The look on his eyes, and his scar obviously, led me to think he didn't have a very happy childhood. We took the elevator and I was surprised to notice that the way down was way less bearable than the way up. Nick stood close to me all the way down to the second floor, and I swore I could feel electric tension coming from him. It was such a strange feeling I've had never experienced before.
"Your hair looks fun. I mean... the colour looks fun."
"Oh, thanks? I usually wear it differently. A bun on each side of my head, I think that makes me look like Minnie Mouse." I placed my hands on my head to mimic the hairstyle.
He bit his lip to hide his laughter once again. I punched him softly in the arm.
"Stop making fun of me, I already know I'm awkward." I smiled. He took a loose strand of pink hair and tucked it behind my ear.
And at that moment I wondered Is he a predator too?"
Some signs of attention from both genders made me feel uncomfortable and led me to think they were going to kill me. You can tell I've been raised in the expectation of fear.
My internal questioning was interrupted by the doors opening to the biggest and fanciest cafeteria I've had ever seen. It was around seven in the evening, and the smell of food almost made me collapse to the floor.
"Come on, let's have dinner."
Nick led the way to the buffet and I was delighted to see that the service included cheeseburgers. I had a lot of everything they served that night. Twice. Some curry pasta, fried chicken and desserts. At first, I thought it was impolite to eat like an ogre in front of a guy you don't know, but when I saw him devour three times the meal I had, all the embarrassment left.
As I sat back on my chair, close to comatose, full to death, the room started to fill with businessmen and women having their dinner break. They worked till very late, some even lived in the building. Just like my family.
"Hey, Nick, do you live here?"
"Nope, I live in Camden. Have you ever been there?"
"Once or twice when I was younger. My sister and I were homeschooled and we didn't get out much. Well, apart from the business trips with our father. He wanted us to see the real world from a very young age."
"I see. Would you like me to take you there? Since you haven't been to London for a long time."
"Is it some funky business? What does he want from me? Despite my very suspicious mind, I decided I could use a friend.
"Sure, why not!"
He leaned over the table and whispered: "You have to know that I'm one of the few aware of the real business of your father."
I gasped. "And you're okay with working for him?"
"Technically I work for Ms Wayne. And yeah, I'm okay with it. He's a serious businessman. Not the shady kind."
That remark made me snort spontaneously. "What?" he asked, surprised.
"Just pictured my father as 'shady'. Was hilarious."
"You're very sarcastic when you talk about your father, you know?"
"I'm very sarcastic when I talk about a lot of things. And someday, I might tell you why." I smiled.
Camden, later that day.
He saw her today.
He finally stood near her, he talked to her. He touched her pink hair. He could see the deep blue of her eyes. He heard her laugh.
They even had dinner together, just like old friends. The anxiety and loneliness he usually feels disappeared when he was with her. After all these years, he finally had the chance to prove that she was the missing piece of his life. She is fierce and glorious, just like a flame in the darkness, hope for a new beginning.
She opened up to him. Little did she know, he knew most of her life, even the darkest parts. If she finds out before the moment is right, she'll think he's an obsessed maniac. He is not. He's just as lonely as she is.
He came home tonight, he knows he's going to enjoy a good night of sleep after so long. His heart is thumping in his chest while laying on his bed. She noticed his scar. He brushes his chin with his fingertips. She saw it, yet she didn't remember. It was a long time ago anyway. And because of the accident, she probably didn't remember anything.
But he never forgot. He never forgot that she saved his life.
And he's going to make her dream come true.