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The proposition, p.3
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       The Proposition, p.3

           Jessica Schlafer
Chapter 3

  Hours later, I had eaten dinner (alone), taken a long, hot bath (alone), shaved everything that needed to be shaved (alone, duh), and dressed for the club. When I bought the clothes, I thought they were sexy and fun. Now that I was standing in Paul's guest bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, I thought I looked ridiculous. I was wearing a black mini-skirt, a low-cut, silver shirt that was covered in sequins, and strappy black sandals. Oh well, I needed to get attention.

  I went downstairs, into the kitchen where Paul and Nick were sitting in silence. Again, when I walked in, Nick gawked at me.

  Paul saw Nick's gawk and scowled. "I hope I never have to see either of my girls in something like that," was all he could say.

  I turned around to walk back upstairs, "I'm going to change."

  Paul and Nick immediately jumped to their feet, both yelling "Nooooooo!"

  “I look like a hooker,” I whined.

  "No you don't. You don't have time, you look fine. Just go," Paul said, pushing us toward the door.

  Once outside, with Paul closing and locking the door behind us, Nick leaned close to me and said "You look great. Not at all like a hooker."

  I'm blushing to my toes!

  "Thank you, you look great, too."

  Nick was wearing the black pants and red button down shirt I picked for him today. Granted, he was wearing the shirt open, with a tee shirt, but he still looked good. He even wore the shoes I made him buy. He held the door to his car open for me and then ran around to his side. Soon enough, we were off to the club called The Winfield.

  After about 30 minutes we pulled in front of, what looked like, a very popular night club. I could hear and feel the music as the car pulled to a stop.

  Nick looked over at me, very seriously, and said "I hope you're ready for this."

  "Let's go."

  Nick got out and a valet got in. Nick then came around to my side and opened my door, holding his hand out for me to take. I saw a lot of people notice Nick and I walking into the club together. We walked past the line and the velvet rope was opened for us. Nick stopped to do his handshake/hug to two different bouncers on the way in and then to another two security men inside. Everyone commented on how long it had been since they saw him. I was beginning to wonder where he had been.

  We walked to the bar and waited our turn to order drinks. Nick leaned in and kissed me on the lips and then he leaned to my ear and said, "We're going to be asked to the VIP area in just a minute."

  Sure enough, just moments after we were handed our drinks, a very large, very serious looking man walked over and said, "Mr. Carmona, Ma'am, Mr. Vora would like you to join him in the VIP area. Come with me."

  That didn't sound like a request.

  We followed Mr. Serious to the side of the dance floor and up the stairs to the VIP area. There were five other men and about eight women who were dressed like strippers.

  "Nick! Welcome, please join us."

  That had to be Merritt. He looked to be between 45-50 years old, he was around 6'4", maybe 165 pounds, black hair, black eyes, severe acne, unshaven, big nose, and he was hairy. His shirt was opened, showing a mass of black hair and his pants looked like they were just a bit too short.

  "Hey, man," Nick said. "How you been?"

  "I'm doing quite well, Nick. How have you been?" They did the handshake/hug.

  "I'm good, man. This is Abby."

  The man looked over at me and licked his lips. “Mmmmm, Abigail, what a delight,” he said. “I am Merritt Vora. Welcome to my club.”

  I was repulsed but I was playing a part. I did my best sexy smile and said, “Thank you for the hospitality. It’s quite, um, what’s a good word? Charming. I’m used to things being much…………bigger,” I said, licking my lips. ”But this is nice.”

  I thought Nick was going to explode. No one said anything and they were all staring at me. Merritt took my hand, kissed it and laughed. “Where are you from, lovely?”

  “New York, originally. I went to college in Boston and that’s where I live now.” I said. “Portland is a quaint city.”

  “Well, what brings you to our, as you said, 'quaint' city?” Merritt took a seat a on a small couch and motioned for us to sit down. I pushed Nick ahead of me and sat on his lap, sort of marking my territory. Merritt paused when he saw us and looked me over again.

  “I came to visit my Godfather and see if there were any jobs here. And Nick is here, so I think I’ll be staying a while.” As if on cue, Nick pushed my hair back and kissed my neck.

  Oh. My. God, I thought.

  “Oh, I hope you stay for a long while, Abigail,” Merritt slithered. “Nick, how did you come across this beautiful woman?”

  “Paul is her Godfather.”

  “Oh Paulie! Where is Paulie tonight?”

  “He stayed home,” Nick said, kissing my shoulder.

  “I’ve never heard ANYONE call him Paulie, EVER,” I said, laughing. “You must be the only one who gets away with it, Mr. Vora.”

  “Please, my dear. Call me Merritt,” he again kissed my hand.

  What was with men here kissing my hand!?

  “Okay, Merritt,” I laughed. “And you can call me Abby.”

  “You’re delightful,” Merritt said. “But I much prefer to call you Abigail.”

  "Okay..." I said.

  "I do hope you enjoy your time here," Merritt said.

  "Oh, I fully intend to," I leaned back into Nick.

  “And I hope to see your beauty gracing my club's dance floor while you're here, as well.”

  “Surely this can't be the only dance club in Portland?” I said, with mock indignation.

  “Baby, you wanna go dance?” Nick asked, kissing my neck again, shooting a look at Merritt.

  “Yes, please,” I jumped up and Nick took my hand, leading me down the stairs.

  Once we were on the dance floor, he pulled me close and started grinding on me. “What the hell are you doing? You insulted his club?”

  “He liked it, though. Didn’t you notice?”

  The music was really loud, so it helped our cover when we had to talk. We leaned very close and spoke directly in each other’s ears. I leaned way back as he held me and swung around in, what I thought, was a very sexy dance move.

  “He definitely noticed you,” Nick said, he sounded almost jealous.

  “Yeah, he is really gross. You weren’t kidding about that.”

  “He’s repulsive. He makes me nauseous just looking at him.”

  “You and me both.” I shimmied down his body and back up to face him. “Kiss me.”

  Nick didn’t ask any questions and kissed me. It was a long, lingering kiss that only ended when we both noticed we were no longer dancing. I had a handful of his hair and he had one hand on my lower back and the other slowly gliding up to my shoulders.

  Nick pulled away, not releasing me from his hold. “We have to get back,” he said, breathlessly.

  “Okay,” I said.

  Nick leaned in and kissed me again. There was more behind this kiss, too, a lot more. He moved his hand down to my well-formed ass. I slid my hands up, inside of his shirt so I could feel the warm skin on his back. Boy, was I wrong about him being thin! I could feel all sorts of muscles just on his back. He pulled one of my legs up so that it was resting on his hip.

  A small moan of pleasure escaped before I could stop it. Nick pulled from my mouth and kissed across my cheek to my ear and down to my throat. All I could do was throw my head back and enjoy it.

  He pulled away again, looking me in the eye and said “Do you think they saw?”

  Oh my God! I’m here to do a job. Get it together.

  I looked up toward the VIP area and made eye contact with Merritt. “Yeah, he definitely saw.”

  “Good, let’s go up,” he said, taking my hand and leading me back to the VIP area.

  “You two seem very smitten with one another,” Merritt sa
id as I once again sat on Nick’s lap, on the small couch.

  I smiled and tried to look demure.

  “Oh yeah,” Nick said.

  “Champagne?” Merritt said.

  “Oh yes please,” I said.

  Merritt motioned for a waitress to come and open a new bottle. It tasted delicious. If I wasn’t careful, I could be in trouble drinking this.

  Luckily, Nick passed on the champagne, sticking to bottled water.

  “Please, Abigail, tell us how you came to know Paulie?” Merritt asked.

  I told the story of my Aunt Lynne and Paul and how much my family loved him. Paul was not my Godfather, as Nick had said, so I had to make that entire story up on the spot. Lucky for me, I’ve always been good at telling stories.

  Holy crap! When did Nick put his hand that high on my thigh?? Don't let that affect you!

  I leaned back, put my arm behind Nick and started stroking his neck, along his hair line and felt him shiver.

  Mmmmmm! I thought. He liked it. I licked my lips and continued.

  "How long have you been in town, darling?" Merritt said.

  I didn't like the way he talked, it was like he was trying to sound European. He was probably from New Jersey.

  "I'm sorry," I said. "Where are you from, Merritt? I just love your accent."

  "Oh, here and there," he said. "I've lived and loved all over," he leaned forward and put his hand on my knee. "You didn't answer my question, though. How long have you been in town?"

  "Just a couple of days," I said.

  "And why am I just meeting you?" Merritt's eyes narrowed at Nick.

  "I had a rough landing. Nick had to buy me a whole new wardrobe," I said, which made him kiss my arm.

  "A rough landing?"

  "The airline lost my luggage, a hot water pipe exploded on me..."

  "My goodness. Is everything well now?"

  "I still don't have my luggage, but where I got burned is starting to heal. These kinds of things seem to only happen in small towns."

  "Well then, how long have you two two?"

  I panicked; I had no idea how to answer that. "You know that I went to Boston to do some business for Paul about three months ago?" Merritt nodded, "He said that his Goddaughter lived there and I should take her out to dinner. So I did," Nick covered smoothly.

  "And here we are," I said, kissing Nick.

  I only meant it to be a short, sweet kiss, but Nick pressed into me and made the kiss linger.

  I pulled away and watched Nick slowly lick his lips and smile. I gave him another quick kiss and smiled.

  "And here you are," Merritt said, leering. "I'm so sorry, Darling Abigail, but can you excuse us for a few minutes? Nick and I have some business to tend to."

  "Umm," I looked at Nick, he nodded. "Sure, I'll go dance for a while," I said, standing to leave.

  Nick pulled me back toward him and kissed me again, "Don't go far. We shouldn't be long."

  "Okay baby," I said as I walked out the door, turning to give him a little wave.

  I went to the dance floor and chose a spot where I had the best view of the VIP room and I watched to make sure everything was going well. As if I would be able to do anything about it if things went awry. I was trying to blend in with the other club-goers, so I danced a bit. It wasn’t long before a drunk guy came up and tried to dance with me.

  “No, thank you,” I said as he tried to touch and grind on me.

  “Come on, baby,” he slurred, pushing close to my ear. “You look hot and I can tell you want it tonight.”

  “Not with you,” I said, pushing him away.

  He grabbed my hand and rubbed it on his crotch. “See what you’ve done to me.”

  “Oh my God,” I said, jerking my hand away. I had stopped dancing. “You need to back the fuck off. My boyfriend can probably see you.”

  “I don’t see him,” he leaned into me again, trying to grab me.

  I pulled my arm back to hit him when Nick walked up, took my hand, and kissed me on the mouth. “Is there a problem here?” he asked.

  I started to say something when Drunk Guy started a panicked ramble, “Hey man, I’m sorry. She came on to me. She was asking for it. I didn’t know she was with you. Man, if I had seen her with you. I’m sorry, dude.”

  DG started to walk away when Nick grabbed his shoulder. DG stopped, tensed, and slowly turned around. The look on his face said he was afraid of being hit.

  “You see this girl?”

  DG nodded.

  “I asked you a question, you say something when I speak to you.”


  “You see this girl?”


  “She’s mine. You put the word out, NOBODY fucks with my girl. You got that?”


  “Now, you get the fuck outta here. The next time you see me, you leave. I don’t care where we are, if I walk into your fucking house, you get up and walk out. You got that?”


  “Now, get the fuck outta here,” Nick said, shoving DG to the ground.

  DG scrambled to his feet and moved quickly through the crowd of people.

  Holy fuck! That was hot!

  “You ready?” Nick asked.

  “You’re done?” I asked, he nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.”

  On the way out the door, we ran into DG again. He didn’t see us coming because he was standing with some other men talking and wildly gesturing. Most likely regaling them with the tale of how he sexually assaulted some woman on the dance floor and then kicked her hapless boyfriend's ass.

  Nick’s face turned to fury, “Hey man,” he said, grabbing the guy’s shoulder again.

  This time the guy turned around and hit Nick in the face. I couldn’t help myself, I screamed.

  Nick was back on his feet very quickly. “You just made a huge mistake, asshole.” Almost instantly there were two bouncers on top of DG. “Take him out back,” Nick was wiping blood away from his nose.

  “Oh my God,” I said. “You’re bleeding. Nick?”

  “Abby, go out to the car and drive back to Paul’s house.” He handed me his valet ticket. “It’s programmed in the GPS.”

  “What’s happening?” I screeched.

  “You need to go,” he said.

  “Nick, what are you going to do?” I was near hysteria.

  He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, very close to my face, “Abby, I have to go take care of this. Take the car and go. You don’t want to be here now. Look at my face. Do you understand?”

  I nodded, “Y-yes.”

  “Go then.”

  He turned me around and I was out the door. I absently handed the ticket to the valet and waited for Nick’s car to drive up. I got in, shut the door, adjusted the seat and mirrors, put my seat belt on, put my foot on the brake, and put the car in Drive.

  That’s when I remembered I don’t drive.

  I was able to get the car from in front of the club and onto a side street before my panic took over.


  I was talking to myself in the car and in tears when there was a knock on the window. The sound sent a new wave of terror through me, I screamed. Very slowly I turned to look and I saw Merritt.

  “We meet again, Abigail,” he slithered after I put the window down. “Whatever is wrong?”

  Shit!Shit!Shit! “I don’t drive.”

  “You don’t drive? That’s absurd.”

  “That’s what Nick said.”

  “Why don’t you drive?”

  Stay in character. “I don't live in the woods. I live in the city, I don't need to drive.”

  Merritt squatted and leaned on the window frame. “How are you going to get home? Where is home?”

  “I’ve been staying with Paul,” I said. “I don’t even know how to get there.”

  Quickly, Merritt had a phone out and was speakin
g to someone. “Yes.” Pause. “In the alley.” Pause. “Now.”

  He stared at me a moment and reached into his jacket pocket and handed me a handkerchief.

  “Thank you,” I sniveled.

  “This is Nick’s car?”


  “Put the window up, take the keys and, get out.”

  I did as I was told and handed him the keys when I was outside the car. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders. Just as I was about to protest, another car pulled up and stopped.

  “Come,” he said, pulling my elbow. “My driver will take you home. Marquis?”

  I hadn’t noticed the front door open and the other man get out of the car. It was the same serious man from inside the club.


  “Take Ms?”

  “Moss,” I said.

  “Take Ms. Moss to Paul Centanni’s home, please.”


  Marquis opened the back door for me to get in. I started to shrug out of Merritt’s jacket.

  “Keep it. I will see you again.”

  I said nothing. I slid into the backseat of the car and soon we were off. For all I knew, this man was taking me to the forest to kill me and dump my body. Eventually, though, I started recognizing landmarks and realizing that I was being taken to the right place.

  When we arrived at Paul’s, the gate was immediately opened for us and I was driven to the front of the house. Paul was waiting, still dressed, like an upset father.

  “Thank you, Marquis,” Paul said after I had gotten out of the car.

  “Yessir,” he said before getting back into the car and driving off.

  Paul was silent for too long, “I’m pulling the plug on this,” he finally whispered between clenched teeth.


  “This is too dangerous, Abby. I can’t put you in that kind of danger.”

  “I wasn’t in danger, Paul. Nick made sure I was safe.”

  “You were alone in the club while he conducted business with Merritt. Then he left you alone to take care of some drunk? Abby, if that’s safe…..”

  “Paul, I was safe. You can’t pull the plug on this. What will happen if you do?”

  Paul turned to walk into the house. He sighed, “You’re right, I can’t pull the plug.” He stopped and turned to face me. “I’m getting you another phone.” He turned to walk again. “And a car.”

  “I don’t drive.”

  “You’ll learn.”

  Once inside, Paul disappeared into his office and I went to my room to shower and change. I had taken a long, hot shower, put on my teeny shorts and tank top and turned off the lights. I was getting into bed when I heard the knock on the door. I barely heard it the first time. I stopped and listened again and there was another knock. I turned on the bedside light and told the knocker to come in.

  The door opened and shut quickly and Nick came in.

  “Oh my God, Nick,” I looked him over. “You’re bleeding.”

  “Shhh, it’s not my blood,” he said. “You’re okay? I’m so sorry. I forgot you don’t drive.”

  “I’m fine. Are you okay?”

  I took his hands and noticed they were bruised and bloodied. I pulled him into the attached bathroom. Without a word, I filled the sink with warm water, got a wash cloth and started cleaning him up. I cleaned his face and arms, working my way to his hands, which looked like they actually hurt. As I cleaned each knuckle, I kissed them. He watched me very intently.

  I finished both of his hands and let go, still looking into his eyes. He ran his hand over my cheek and back into my hair, pulling me into a kiss. The long, slow kiss turned more heated and fervent. Nick pushed me up onto the counter; I was practically in the sink. He ran his hand up my back, over my bare skin. I reached down and unfastened his belt and the button to his pants when he stopped and pulled away.

  “Abby, I…..”

  “Why not?”

  “I just can’t. Not like this. Not here,” he sighed, helped me off the counter and fastened his pants. “You should go back to Boston,” he whispered.

  “It’s too late now,” I said, pulling my shirt down and brushing past him, to my bed.

  Nick stood in the bathroom for, what seemed like, a long time before he shut off the light and walked back toward my bed. He stood, looking at me for a few minutes.

  “It’s only gonna get harder,” I whispered.

  Nick shrugged and walked to the door. He stood with the door open for a moment, then turned and said, “I know,” and then he was gone.

  I tossed and turned all night, trying to talk myself into not being mad at Nick. I'm only here to play a part, not to have feelings. I had finally managed to get my anger under control. I wouldn't fall for Nick, I promised myself.

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